A few items before I take off.
Time for the bad half of Obamacare to kick in: ObamaCare fines loom for uninsured
People without insurance are running out of time to avoid the hefty ObamaCare penalties that the IRS will be handing down in 2016.In Vermont, single-payer healthcare quietly disappears
Consumers face a Feb. 15, 2015, deadline to buy insurance, after which those without coverage could be hit with fines of $325 per adult or 2 percent of family income, whichever is higher.
Uninsured people looking to escape the penalties are turning to the exchanges before they close, while insurance companies and tax preparers are seizing on the looming tax hit as a business opportunity.
So in terms of socialist experimental laboratories, this is the spot where you’d want to launch progressive initiatives and take them for a test spin. That was the plan for Governor Peter Shumlin, who had promised his constituents that they would soon be enjoying the first in the nation single payer healthcare plan. But faced with the cold, harsh light of reality, that plan is now history.Maybe they can just borrow the Cuban medical plan?
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday dropped his plan to enact a single-payer health care system in his state — a plan that had won praise from liberals but never really got much past the framework stage.You can’t attribute the entire mess to one cause, but it certainly didn’t help Shumlin’s case to have Jonathan Gruber involved in the project to the tune of roughly $400K. The voters probably weren’t looking forward to being lectured on videotape about how stupid they are in 2015. But, again, that probably wouldn’t have been enough to scrap the plan by itself.
“This is not the right time” for enacting single payer, Shumlin said in a statement, citing the big tax increases that would be required to pay for it.
Shumlin faced deep skepticism that lawmakers could agree on a way to pay for his ambitious goal and that the feds would agree to everything he needed to create the first state-based single-payer system in 2017.
Far more of a problem was the fact that the project couldn’t be funded in a self-sustaining way without causing an all out revolt among the peasants. Individual taxpayers would have been subjected to a 9.5% “premium assessment” while businesses would have been paying an even larger tax hit. And all of the money wouldn’t have resulted in an actual single payer system anyway. Shumlin was going to have to exempt large companies with their own healthcare plans and people would have still been eligible for Medicare. The competing plans would have gutted the system which would have needed essentially 100% buy-in and contributions from every citizen to even have a chance of working.
But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars. They were not able to secure a guarantee that the money would be available and the project went under. Now imagine scaling that up to a national single payer plan. Who would be available further upstream to help fund that? Nobody. The money would all have to be extracted from the taxpayers and every business in the country. And if we managed to pull it off you could soon be enjoying the benefits of waiting for years to get an appointment or some critical surgery.
File this under "things you miss by only getting your news from MSNBC." Bye, Bye “Bailout”: CROmnibus Takes a Small but Important Bite out of Obamacare
The CROmnibus, with which the lame-duck Congress keeps the government open in 2015, takes small but important steps to repeal Obamacare. For the short term, the most important anti-Obamacare achievement is eliminating taxpayers’ liability for Obamacare’s risk corridors, often described as a “bailout,” to health insurers participating in Obamacare’s exchanges.Paving the Way to Full Repeal - Toooooooooooooo looooooooong Read the whole thing.
The First Leg: Ending the Unfairness in the Tax Code—by Offering Tax Credits to the Uninsured and Individually Insured . . .But maybe they need to suffer for a few years, first.
The Second Leg: Solving the Problem of Expensive Preexisting Conditions . . .
The Third Leg: Lowering Health Costs Across the Board . . .
The Fatal Conceit of Jonathan Gruber
The Times reassuringly described Gruber as “the numbers wizard at MIT,” who has “spent decades modeling the intricacies of the health care ecosystem.” Gruber has “brought a level of science to an issue that would otherwise be just opinion.”There's science and then there's "science."
I might note that the Soviets used the term “science” for their own “scientific” planning commission. I drew little comfort from Professor Gruber’s scientific-planning credentials, especially when I learned “he’s the only person you can go to for that kind of thing.” Gruber, aided by his brilliant MIT graduate student assistants, is a one-man Gosplan, the name given to the Soviet Union’s state planning committee. That is not much of a recommendation. Science is better served by competing ideas not by a one-person monopoly.
Both Gruber and the USSR’s Gosplan planners believe their planning is “scientific” and executed by “the best of the best.” Both types of planning commissars suffer from F. A. Hayek’s “fatal conceit”—the belief that we can plan incredibly complex economic systems. As Hayek pointed out in his writings, such “scientific” plans inevitably fall apart under the weight of unintended consequences.