Just days after House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) released a 43-page health care reform report card, The Senate Doctors — Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) — are out with their own 32-page booklet on all of the problems one can anticipate from the yet-to-be implemented provisions in the new health care law. The report is what you would expect:
– 100 million Americans will lose their current form of health insurance.
– Taxes and fees on pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices and providers will be passed on to consumers.
– The report also argues that insurance premiums will shoot up because large numbers of young and healthy Americans will avoid signing up for government-mandated insurance unless and until they need it.
It’s fairly elementary stuff that an aide pasted together using the available press clippings and Republican talking point points, but it also points to the fact that whether or not these predictions are true will depend on how well the law is implemented by the federal and state governments. Republicans have settled on a strategy of complaining about every projected problem and concern, rather than offering legislation to improve the cost control mechanisms of other provisions in the current law. They’ve decided to drag down implementation, instead of trying to shape it. And that could become problematic.
You need to look no further for the consequences of lawmaker inaction than Sunday’s Boston Globe. The Massachusetts health law did not deal with cost control, but last July a panel proposed paying “doctors and hospitals buffet style – one price per patient, no matter what they consume – rather than à-la-carte fees for each and every service.” The policy has garnered some opposition from provider groups and lawmakers have been hesitant to act. Citing political opposition and technical challenges, state Senate President Therese Murray, a Democrat, “told the Boston Globe she would wait at least until next year to move legislation on the change after ‘going around in circles’ with policymakers for months.” Meanwhile, health costs are increasing as fast as 8 percent a year.
So what happens if lawmakers do the same thing on the national level? Jonathan Cohn reminds us that “politicians might decide to be careless with taxpayer dollars–and taxpayers might let them get away with it,” but they can’t exactly “force tomorrow’s to be fiscally responsible.” Just like today’s lawmakers can’t fix SGR without paying for it, tomorrow’s “leaders” will have to pay for whatever it is they take out. There is truth to that, but it’s all them ore likely to create problems if Coburn, Barrasso, and the rest of the GOP continue to work very hard to ensure that their predictions are come to fruition.