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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What Policies Are In the “Build Back Better” Plan?

            The massive $3.5 trillion social-welfare spending bill being pushed by Democrats contains more problems than the cost of it. Two Democrat Senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – are opposing the bill because of the cost. Their opposition caused the bill to stall in Congress.

The cost is too high, but the policies in the bill have the potential to change America as we know it. The agenda of the bill is to shift more power and control to the federal government and away from the states and individuals. Nina Owcharenko Schaefer is a senior fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation, and she sees problems in the bill regarding health care. 

The so-called Build Back Better plan, moving its way through the Democrat-led Congress, is jammed full of policy changes that drive the country closer to a government takeover of health care than ever before.

Trying to slim down the cost or water down the proposals will not resolve those fundamental policy concerns.

            Schaefer listed seven ways that the bill will make it more difficult for individuals to keep their health plans, while also making it “more likely you’d get the subpar benefits” of government-run health care. Here is her list.

1) Creates a New, Government-Run Health Plan

Part of the legislative package would put in place a new federal health care program. The program would be modeled after Medicaid, a joint federal-state program to provide medical services to certain low-income Americans, and would be made available to those individuals in states that did not adopt the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

While seemingly narrow and targeted, the proposal could easily be scaled up and expanded to new groups. Under such an arrangement, the government would set regulatory rules in favor of the government plan, drive out private competition, compel participation, consolidate enrollment, and shift costs on to health care providers and taxpayers….

2) Expands Government Subsidies to Insurance Giants, the Rich

The proposal would make existing Obamacare subsidies more generous and make them available to more people, regardless of income.

Specifically, individuals with income between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty line would no longer have to contribute to the cost of their Obamacare premiums…

Since the subsidies are tethered to Obamacare, these changes are intended to drive more people to the government-run Obamacare exchanges, including some of whom would have otherwise had insurance.

The more people enrolled in Obamacare, the more the government controls the delivery of care and benefits. Moreover, these changes attempt to cover up the fact that Obamacare is driving up – not down – the cost of coverage….

3) Undercuts Private, Employer-Based Coverage

The bill changes the requirements for those with access to employer-based coverage to qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

Under current law, individuals with access to employer-based coverage are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies unless their share of the premium costs exceed 9.2%. The bill would lower that threshold to 8.5%.

The private, employer-based market is where the majority of Americans still get their health care and remains a critical obstacle to a full-blown government-run health care plan. Lowering the threshold is a small, but significant, shift in the opposite direction….

4) Undermines Non-Obamacare Options

The proposal blocks access to information about non-Obamacare coverage options. The bill would prohibit federal funds from being used to “promote non-[Affordable Care Act] compliant health insurance coverage” and explicitly defines short-during and association health plans as such options….

5) Expands Size, Scope of Medicaid

The legislation assumes a larger role for the federal government in Medicaid. The proposal would create a new grant program within Medicaid that would add $190 billion for home and community-based services.

The proposal would also impose new federal requirements on state Medicaid programs and would weaken oversight and accountability through various policy changes….

6) Puts New Obligations on Outdated Medicare Program

The legislation proposes adding dental, hearing, and vision to the traditional Medicare program. To avoid an even bigger price tag, the benefits would be phased-in over time. Seniors would still be responsible for a portion of costs, but taxpayers would be responsible for the rest….

7) Sets Government Controls on Prescription Drugs

Under the bill, the federal government would set prices for certain prescription drugs in the Medicare program, based on prices paid in other countries….

Government control over the price of pharmaceuticals means government control over access to pharmaceuticals. Like residents in those selected other countries, seniors would face less access and fewer choices under this model….

            Government should not be involved in the health care business. Schaefer points out that Canada and the United Kingdom are good examples that show “the impact such controls have on access to care, where wait lists are common and expected, and where access to treatments are limited or denied.”  

Schaefer summarized her article by explaining that there is “a common health care thread running throughout the ‘Build Back Better’ plan.” That thread is the desire to remove “private coverage alternatives and consolidate enrollment in the government-run plans.” The government would then control the dollars and the decisions.

This post discusses only the affects that would take place in the health care arena. The “Build Back Better” plan has an agenda to take over the lives of Americans. That is the reason the policies contained in the proposal are just as bad or worse than the price tag.

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