Joe Biden and the Healthcare Mess

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Health care reform is the “foremost economic and moral issue that this administration is determined to deal with,” Joe Biden said during a recent White House meeting. “Our hospitals are cracking under the weight of providing quality healthcare for Americans who lack insurance,” he added. “The status quo is simply unacceptable. Rising costs are crushing us. They’re crushing families, crushing businesses, crushing state budgets — and they are crushing the health-care industry itself.”

The good news is that the White House struck a deal with the Catholic Health Association, the American Hospital Association and the Hospital Corporation of America to forgo $155 billion in government healthcare reimbursements over the next 10 years. If you’re keeping track, the pharmaceutical companies hopped onboard last month, offering up another $80 billion to help make all of Barack and Joe’s healthcare dreams come true. If you were reading this with a calculator in your hand, you’d see they need $765 billion for their estimated $1 trillion plan.

In his affable way, Biden assures us, “Folks, reform is coming. It is on track. It is coming. We have tried for decades and decades to fix the broken system and we have never in my entire career in public life been this close.”

“But Joe, where will this money come from?” we ask. The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration can add another $540 billion over 10 years by upping the taxes for households making more than $350,000/year. Under Charlie Rangel’s proposed plan, these households would not only pay their 39.6% income-tax rate, but they would also pay another 1% surtax for the health plan (or 2% for households making more than $500,000 and 3% for households making $1 million or more.) So that brings us to a $225 billion discrepancy to fill… unless of course, this money is just being used to keep the over-inflated plan under a trillion, as USA Today suggests… and unless you tack on the $500 billion it’d cost to expand Medicaid and Medicare (to households making as much as $33,000/year). Yes, Houston, we’ve got problems – even if “over two-thirds of the money is already in the system,” as National Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says.

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