Being a glutton for punishment, I watched nearly all of last Thursday's Blair House forum on Obamacare. I expected very little to come out of the meeting and I was not disappointed. Simply put, the Democrats want to expand coverage, but don't really want to pay for it, and the Republicans don't want anything to pass. Unfortunately doing nothing keeps us on the road to perdition and passing Obamacare only makes things worse.
What both parties understand, but are unwilling to admit, is that the current system is bankrupting the Nation. Medicare has a $38 trillion unfunded liability and yet the Democrats want to exacerbate the situation by expanding coverage and the Republicans are now positioning themselves as the saviors of Medicare. Give me a break.
Obama and his cohorts, sucking up to their paymasters in organized labor, punted on the one big measure that would have a chance in bending the cost curve, the excise tax on "Cadillac" plans. If the Republicans really cared about costs, they would have pushed Obama on this issue. But no, in fear of anti-tax Grover Norquist, they can't come out in public in favor of any tax.
At the end of the day, if we are to break not bend the healthcare cost curve, sterner measures will be needed. A few suggestions, a stiffer tax on "Cadillac" plans, real cuts in medicare, ending the middle-class entitlement of nursing home care under Medicaid, ending fee for service medicine, triage with "end of life" panels, and a payroll tax to fund expansion of care to let all of the particpants know that healthcare is not a free good. Remember both Social Security and Medicare are funded with payroll taxes. If the Democrats want healthcare so bad, they should be willing to tax their own constituencies. After all this is how it works in social democratic Europe. Thus we should put the horse before the cart and cut costs first and generate real savings and then we should rightfully expand coverage.