The Baucus $13 billion annual folly

I posted recently about the Baucus Obamacare bill, and noted that, unlike the other bills floating around Congress, this one doesn’t have the word “affordable” in its title. Based upon what follows, the absence of the word “affordable” is more than understandable.

I was under the impression that President Obama felt that the costs of health insurance and health care were rising to the level where the federal government needed to step in and and immediately reverse this trend.  Apparently Senator Baucus (D. Mt.) didn’t get the memo.  Here is what his bill calls for:

An annual “fee” of $2.3 billion is imposed on manufacturers and importers of prescription drugs. (page 217)

An annual “fee” of $4 billion is imposed on manufacturers and importers of medical devices.  ( page 218)  As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal,

While there are some exemptions, such as tongue depressors and eyeglasses, most of the devices tax will fall on hundreds of thousands of products that are basic components of modern medicine. Some are routine—surgical equipment, diabetes testing supplies—while others are cutting-edge technologies, like replacement joints, pacemakers, stents, and MRI and CT scanners.

An annual fee of $6 billion is imposed on insurers, including some insurers which are currently tax exempt. (page 220)  These fees are in addition to the $20 billion in “contributions” the insurers must cough up between 2013 and 2015 to “stabilize premiums” for those enrolled in the state exchanges. (page 12)

And, an annual fee of $750 million is imposed on clinical laboratories. (page 221)

Since none of these fees (per the markup) are tax deductible, guess who will be paying all of them?  You will.

But, there is more.  All of these fees begin in 2010.  Because the exact date in 2010 these fees are owed has not yet been set, beginning on January 1, 2010, (if not sooner) all of these industries will have to raise prices enough to cover not only the fees owed in 2010, but also to begin to cover some, if not all of the fees owed in 2011…an overall health care price increase of something close to $26.2 billion in 2010 alone.  This gives brand new meaning to the term “sticker shock”, and, is the reason this bill will henceforth be known as the “Baucus Unaffordable Health Care Bill”.

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