The Covid-19 Relief Bill is a $1.9 Trillion dollar attempt by Democrats to relieve much more than the impact of Covid-19. It seems the Biden administration wants to add on a long list of Democratic priorities that would otherwise never get approval without riding the coattails of a bill intended for Covid-19 relief.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board analysis generously attributes about $825 billion to things remotely related to the Covid-29 pandemic. This includes $75 billion for vaccinations, testing, and medical supplies; $19 billion for “public health” primarily to support state health departments and community health centers. There’s also $6 billion for the Indian Health Service and $4 billion for mental health. Another $7.2 billion goes to the Paycheck Protection Program, $15 billion for economic injury disaster loans, $26 billion for restaurants, bars and live venues, and $15 billion in payroll support for airlines. The recipients of this taxpayer money will at least be required to prove economic harm, and in some cases, repay the loans.
Another $425 billion is intended for household checks of $1400 per man, woman, and dependent that begins phasing out at $75,000 of individual income. There’s also additional money to provide “enhanced” unemployment benefits of $400 per week through August which will undoubtedly increase unemployment rates as workers realize they can make more money by staying home than working.
Even if you accept this $825 billion as “necessary Covid-19 relief,” that still leaves nearly $1.1 Trillion of additional spending that has nothing to do with Covid-19. It’s not the aim of this post to discuss all those other dollars and where they will be spent – with one exception. It now has become apparent that some of that money is intended to bail out ObamaCare.
The latest WSJ analysis reveals that the Biden administration intends to use these funds to supersize subsidies on the ObamaCare exchanges. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported last fall that unsubsidized enrollment had dropped 45% between 2016 and 2019. In other words, ObamaCare policies aren’t worth the money unless you receive a subsidy.
Here’s how the editorial board of WSJ puts it: “Instead of making the underlying product better or less expensive, Democrats now want to pass more of the cost onto taxpayers. More low-income buyers would pay little to nothing for insurance. Democrats would also remove the income cap for receiving subsidies, which is 400% of the poverty line, and reduce a person’s maximum contribution to 8.5% of income from 10%.”
As a physician who accepts patients with ObamaCare insurance, I know the problem isn’t having insurance; the problem is not being able to afford the deductibles. An insurance provided by the government is mostly useless if the deductibles it requires are unaffordable. Many of the patients I see have to cancel the surgery they need when they find out the high cost of the deductibles required to be paid before surgery. The same is true of co-pays required with every physical therapy session. Unless the government lowers the actual cost of receiving treatment, by lowering the total cost of healthcare, subsidies of the premiums won’t solve the problem.
What’s worse, the Biden plan to increase subsidies will spend scarce resources on those who don’t need help. Brian Blasé of the Galen Institute has pointed out that a family of four headed by a 60-year-old earning $240,000 could qualify for a nearly $9,000 subsidy. This hardly gets the money in the hands of the needy.
The House bill also offers a temporary five-percentage-point increase in federal funding to states that decide to expand Medicaid to childless, prime-age adults above the poverty line, a demographic never intended for Medicaid when it was established. This has nothing to do with Covid-19 relief. It is intended as another way to make more Americans – and more states – dependent on the federal government.
Why would Democrats want to spend so much money where it is not needed?
The WSJ editorial board has this opinion: “Democrats will talk all of this up as merely helping struggling Americans get health coverage. The true plan is to continue to chip away at private health insurance, creating more market dysfunction that they will later claim to solve with more government insurance.”
More government insurance means Medicare for All, the socialized medicine system promoted by Senator Bernie Sanders – the socialist considered too radical to be the Democratic nominee for president. It looks like Bernie may have the last laugh!
(Note: More on the Covid-19 Relief Bill tomorrow. The House of Representatives just passed the bill by a 219 – 212 vote. The bill now goes to the Senate.)