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March 21, 2010

HCR Is Going To Pass - So What Happens Now?

Well it seems almost certain now that the House will pass the Senate's version of the health care bill tonight and Obama will sign it into law shortly after that. Reconciliation may or may not happen. But in any case HCR is going to be the law. So what happens now?

Well in the short run the HCR bill will be a giant tax increase along with some regulations that will also make your premiums go up. So expect to lose roughly around 4%+ of your income.

According to this WSJ article here's what you can expect in the next four years before the real changes kick in:

• Insurance companies will no longer be able to cancel enrollees' policies because they got sick, or to place lifetime caps on their policies' payouts.
• Children can stay on their parents' insurance policies until their 26th birthday.
• Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 will be eligible for tax credits to cover up to 35% of their insurance premiums.
• The Medicare payroll tax will go up by 0.9% to 2.35% on wages above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples
• And various taxes on health care plans, drug importers, and medical device manufacturers.

And lots of other unpleasant effects will start kicking in in 2013 and 2014.

Will ObamaCare be a Pyrrhic Victory for Democrats?

So this is actually a bit of good news amidst the shit sandwich since it means that most people will experience the pain of this bill while still keeping their current health coverage. Sure it'll be expensive but at least the existing plans and insurance companies will be around for a while. Long enough for the GOP to take back the House and Senate in 2010 and maybe the White House in 2012. And right now that's looking more likely. Plus a lot of the country is now very frustrated and angry and somewhat organized. Expect this to keep growing as the bill's effect becomes more than theoretical.

Here the Democrats made the mistake of putting the stick first and the carrot years later in order to pass the CBO. It'll probably cost them control of Congress and it'll also have knock-on effects in state legislatures which will make it that much harder for them to make a comeback. Now the Democrats may feel this was all worth it since universal health care is essentially a sacrament for them. But that warm feeling only lasts so long when you're wandering in the political wilderness.

This reminds me of the time in the late 70's (which I only dimly recall) when the Roe v. Wade decision woke up a lot of normally apolitical people and pushed them towards the GOP. And if that hadn't been based on a Supreme Court decision, I would have expected it to have been overturned around 1982 or so. But in this case there's no court ruling to put HCR beyond repeal. So there's a decent chance of rolling it back if the bill stays unpopular, the GOP takes back Congress, and repealing the bill doesn't mean taking away someone's coverage. So I figure we've got about 3 years to make sure these conditions happen.

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posted by Maetenloch at 07:07 PM

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