20 December 2009

Unequal Protection from the Costs of Medicaid?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal that was struck with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to get the crucial 60 votes needed to proceed on its health care bill included giving Nebraska's citizens an exemption enjoyed by the citizens of no other states: "Mr. Nelson also won a commitment that the federal government would pick up his home state's share of the cost of expanding Medicaid."

By saying that those costs would be picked up by the federal government, the Journal means that they will be borne by the citizens of other states. The citizens of Nebraska will be exempt from paying for the tremendous expansion of Medicaid, while the citizens of other states will not only pay their own share but also Nebraska's portion as well.

I want the same exemption.

I don't believe for one second the suggestion that the new programs will cost only what the Senate and the CBO currently estimate. It would, first of all, be the first federal government program in history to cost only what its supporters say it would up front. And I find the idea that they will cut $500 billion from Medicare laughable. I promise you, it will never happen.

(This past July, President Obama promised, "That is why I have pledged that I will not sign health insurance reform that adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade. And I mean it." Do you believe him? I certainly don't. What's he willing to wager on that promise? If he's wrong, will he rescind the bill? Will he pay personally for the difference? If he's so confident that he can speak of even "one dime," why shouldn't he?)

So this will add hundreds of billions of dollars--trillions, even--to the mounting national debt that our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay. These future generations will have to work all their lives to pay for the benefits we demand now for ourselves. I think that is morally wrong. It is akin to forced labor. Paying for the benefits now, through current taxation, is one thing. I would still oppose it, but at least it's closer to having those who benefit from the program also be the ones who pay for it. But financing it through debt makes future people--who had no say in the program, who were not asked, who did not voluntarily join the agreement--nevertheless have to pay for it. How can that be justified?

So, I repeat: I want the same exemption from paying that Nebraska's citizens will enjoy. I will go farther. I want an exemption from paying for the entire thing, not just expanded Medicaid coverage, and I want a permanent exemption (like Nebraska's citizens) for my children and descendants for any and all debt created by the program. In return, I offer never to use or benefit from any government health insurance or health care program.

Mr. President, will you grant me this exemption?

One other question. Wouldn't Nebraska's special exemption violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution?

1 comment:

sourdoughcoaster said...

If all 50 states got exemptions, it would undermine the practice of states laying claim on each other. This may be the route to federalism as intended. Bring it on!

Schwaatzenegger's complaint that CA sends more money to the Treasury than it gets, if duplicated by other "contributor states", and acted on, could also undermine the great State Welfare heist. Subsidies rightly rankle. Maybe with the NE and CA cases, we can see some of the taking-and-giving, the reason for Washington's being, come to an end.