Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yes, But

Ben Nelson, Democratic U.S. Senator from Republican Nebraska, has gained considerable notice lately for his vote in favor of the Senate version of health insurance reform. In defense of his vote he has been airing a television ad, in which he predicts that the legislation for which he voted would lower families’ costs, protect Medicare, and reduce the deficit.

The front page feature article of the Sunday, January 10 Omaha World Herald critiqued the ad as follows:

Yes: More than 175 million Americans would pay about the same or less for health insurance premiums than if the bill didn’t pass, partly due to new federal subsidies.

But: The Senate bill includes taxes on high-priced plans and would likely increase premiums for 14 million Americans not in group plans who earn too much for subsidies.

Yes: Solvency of Medicare program would be extended by nine years, to 2026.

But: Much of the plan would be paid for by reducing Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers, which could cause some to go out of business or stop taking Medicare.

Yes: The federal budget deficit would be lowered by more than $130 billion over the 2010-19 time period.

But: Some revenue provisions start immediately while most major spending starts in 2014. The reduction also hinges on Congress breaking past patterns and following through on the Medicare cuts.

Fair commentary, I would say.

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