WASHINGTON POST: Editorial Paints Congress’ “True Colors”
"Two years of debate over health care in this Congress have come down to a handful of end-of-session bills that have two things in common," a Washington Post editorial states. "They were mainly written by Republicans over Democratic opposition, and they would mainly benefit the better-off who already have health insurance as opposed to the seventh of the population that lives without." The Post writes that Republicans would raise Medicare payments for the managed care industry in a "so-called giveback bill," despite Democrats' protests that companies "are already overpaid." Republicans say that such action is necessary to prevent the further exodus of HMOs from Medicare, but the Post calls it a "reward" for an industry that the GOP leadership has "fought a rear-guard action for two years to protect." Several senior Republicans also seek to expand subsidies for medical savings accounts, explaining that it would increase the accessibility of health care. Again, the Post counters, "In fact it would mainly help better- off and healthy people opt out of the broader insurance pool and self-insure, thereby raising premiums for the less well-off and sicker people left behind." But the "worst" proposal "pushed" by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) would permit a tax deduction for those who pay more than 50% of the cost of their health insurance. Despite supporters' arguments that it would assist small businesses, the Post contends that in actuality "it would be of little benefit except to those in the highest tax brackets ... the Democrats should refuse to pay it." The editorial concludes, "These proposals are, in the end, the perfect reflection of the priorities of this Congress. While pretending otherwise, they would mainly help people who don't need it at the expense of those who do. They ought to be voted down" (Washington Post, 10/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.