The fraud and dishonesty in the Baucus bill

You really have to read this entire piece by Jeffrey Anderson in the New York Post to get a sense of how frighteningly dishonest the gimmicks used by Senator Baucus to get the CBO to sign off on his health care bill.

The first bit of rank dishonesty lies in the fact that the CBO is calculating the bill's cost in the next decade starting next year. The problem is that the bill wouldn't even take effect fully until 2015!

But the CBO exposed the truth by taking the rare step of calculating what the bill would cost in its second 10 years. In its second decade alone, the CBO projects, the bill's costs would triple -- to $2.8 trillion. The taxes and fines it levies would also triple -- to $1.8 trillion. And its cuts to Medicare and related federal health programs would quadruple -- to $1.9 trillion.

In its first two decades combined, the bill would cost $3.6 trillion and would raise taxes by $2.3 trillion.

We're just getting started folks.

Baucus' most elementary trick was to have the bill's "first 10 years" include several years when it hadn't really kicked in. It was scored for 2010 to 2019, yet it wouldn't be in full swing until 2015 -- when its costs would exceed those of its first five years combined.

In fact, the bill wouldn't cost anything in 2010. In its real first decade (2011-20), it would cost more than $1 trillion.

Furthermore, the CBO projects that, by the end of 2030, the Baucus bill would have cut spending on Medicare and other existing health programs by more than $2.6 trillion.

Incredibly, the payments to doctors and hospitals will almost guarantee that no doctor will come within a country mile of a Medicare patient in the future:

Also, Baucus' savings are highly suspect. As the CBO notes, his bill would cut Medicare payments to doctors by 25 percent in 2011, then hold them at that level perpetually. In other words, given inflation, Baucus proposes endless cuts in what the program pays physicians and others.

Assuming 3 percent annual inflation, by 2014 doctors' real incomes from Medicare payments would be cut by a third from 2010. By 2025, they'd be cut in half.

If Baucus' cuts actually go through, physicians' willingness to see Medicare patients would dwindle alongside their pay. But if the cuts don't actually get made, Baucus' plan would explode the federal deficit.

Thankfully, this plan is DOA in the House and whatever compromise is reached in conference committee, very few elements of the Baucus bill will pass muster.

But the important thing about this bill is that getting it through committee moves the process along. What we've seen so far in the health care reform drama is simply the prologue.

The final act will play out behind closed doors as Democrats try to forge a consensus on what a majority of them can vote for.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky