We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel -- the two children who discover a house made of candy and other goodies only to find out it is a deception by a wicked witch and the truth is much more dangerous.
In many ways the recently passed health care bill resembles the house made of candy. It too has unfortunate realities waiting to be discovered.
It is true the first year provisions of the bill are popular fixes. It will allow those with pre-existing conditions to enter high-risk pools. It prohibits the practice of rescinding existing health insurance policies when a person gets sick. It prohibits insurers from imposing lifetime limits and restricts the use of annual limits while extending dependent coverage for unmarried young adults until the age of 26.
That is the candy. Now comes the oven.
The truth of the matter is the Democrats used nearly every trick in their book and every method of arm-twisting to get this bill passed. Now they are engaging in a "full-speed-ahead" push to convince us this massive growth of bureaucracy is a good bill.
Just prior to signing the health care bill, President Obama claimed there would be no cuts in "guaranteed benefits" for seniors -- despite the fact there are $528.5 billion in cuts to Medicare.
Already, American manufacturers are warning about how much the health care overhaul will cost them. Both Deere & Co. and Caterpillar are reporting the bill will result in their reported earnings declining by $150 million and $100 million respectively because of the mandates and tax increases included in the bill.
Insurance companies have been told they must insure everyone regardless of health. But the cost has to come from somewhere, meaning premiums will rise to compensate for those more at risk. Because the bill limits how much premiums can rise based on age, much of this cost will fall on younger people who can least afford the increased costs.
This is a bad bill, and flying around the country giving speeches isn't going to change the minds of Nebraskans who are familiar with the bill. They oppose a government takeover of health care. They oppose the job-killing tax increases, individual mandates, and the creation of "incentives" which will result in millions of Americans losing the health insurance they have.
Health care reform should be patient-centered to increase access to care and reduce cost without bankrupting our nation and limiting our liberties. The fight to enact common sense reforms to preserve and protect health care must be fought, but it shouldn't be a public relations war. The American people are eager to embrace a plan which will expand access, preserve quality, strip away the barriers to insurance competition, and finally address the runaway costs of lawsuit abuse.
This can be done by allowing individuals to band together across state lines, allowing tax deductibility to everyone for the cost of premiums, and cracking down on junk lawsuits.
As Milton Friedman once said, there's no such thing as a free lunch. That adage certainly applies to this health care bill. Like Hansel and Gretel, I am afraid our country is in for an unpleasant surprise once the sugar rush has worn off.