‘Health Care Reform’ is Just Another Pathetic Cult

As an atheist, I can be a bit prickly on the issue of religion. That’s not terribly uncommon; most atheists I know have a bit of a short fuse on the subject.

One distinct advantage of being without religion, however, is that it makes it very easy to see a new one coming; we’re the canaries in the coal mine for irrational belief systems. So as the health care debate began to change from an argument on merits to an argument from faith, I got nervous.

The signs are everywhere.

Supporters of the bill fervently believe that the "Cadillac" Excise tax will ‘bend the cost curve’ without making existing insurance worse.

That is obviously false. Yet still, they believe.

Other true believers feel that, even if it does make your insurance worse, your employer will give you all the money they save on your premiums. Somehow, even though that money is taxed (and your benefits today aren’t), you will be better off, after healthcare dollars are turned into wages.

Only they won’t be.

So to review:
30% in the Towers-Perrin survey said if health reform increases employer costs, they would reduce employment
86% in the Towers-Perrin survey said if health reform increases employee costs for health care, they would pass those costs on to employees
9% in the Towers-Perrin survey and 16% in the Mercer survey say they would pass on any savings to employees in the form of wage increases

So employers are saying that the fundamental assumption that went into CBO’s and JCT’s calculations on the Cadillac tax are wrong. If the employers are right, it means that employees will get crappier health care–with more out of pocket expenses–but for the most part get no corresponding raise to help pay for those costs. Worse still, this means the revenue calculations will be wrong, because, while the government should be able to tax employers more (if the employers don’t find some other tax loophole), they won’t get any more taxes out of the workers.

Even the chief prophet of the Excise Tax himself, the very well-compensated defender of the faith Jonathon Gruber, admitted that his belief in the Holy Plan was based on the same quality empirical research you used to find in the Weekly World News:

Earlier in the day, I’d been talking to MIT economist Jon Gruber about this issue. “There are a few things economists believe in our souls so strongly that we have a hard time actually explaining them,” he said. “One is that free trade is good and another is that health-care costs come out of wages.”

Yes, it’s true because one man believes it. Also now determined to be true? The Loch Ness Monster, leprechauns, and Iraqi WMD.

Not to worry though; Jonathon Chait still has his ‘ardent’ faith in the excise tax… the fact that it conflicts with the real world doesn’t matter; with faith, the facts never do.

I guess if employers fail to turn the health care benefits they slash into wages, they’ll be transubstantiated into cold hard cash.

Yet other kool-aid guzzlers believe that the divine magic of the free market will bring down costs in a wholly private system. Yea, verily, the Exchange will deliver us from wandering in the health care desert lo these forty long years? Can I get an amen?

‘Amen!’ say the true believers. ‘Amen!’ says Ezra Klein.

Even as the data proving that the Exchange won’t help stares him right in the face.

For people, like, well, me, who think that the health insurance exchanges have a real shot at lowering health-care costs throughout the system, the graph above is difficult. For conservatives who believe that the key to constraining health-care costs is to encourage competition between insurers and give individuals the opportunity to choose, the graph above is difficult. Because what the graph above shows is that neither of those strategies has worked terribly well, at least as of yet.

Oh Most Benevolent and Powerful God of the Exchange, please, please forgive your humble servant for believing the data he can see with his own eyes, and not Your Wisdom, as revealed in the books of AHIP!

Finally, there are the saddest and most pathetic wretches of all, those who believe that if they pass this awful bill, then President Obama will come down from the mountain with his tablets of the Public Option, which he always supported anyway (except when it mattered).

Proven liar Lynn Woolsey (who really ought to practice a new signature, now that her original is worthless) swears to introduce a public option as soon as she votes for a bill without one.

Piecemeal tweaking of the health insurance system will not address this growing problem. We need to reform our health care system, and the public option must be included.

I will fight to include the public option in the final version of the health care reform legislation.

If it is not included, however, it will rise from the dead once again.

The day after the health care legislation is passed, I will introduce a bill calling for the public option.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Her original promise can be redeemed for less than a grocery store coupon. But not to worry; the public option, like any good mythic figure, will rise from the dead. In fact, thanks to Woolsey, we won’t even have to wait three days for it to shamble out of the tomb she’s digging.

How generous.

This morning, Nancy Pelosi, sounding like a true cult acolyte with stars in her eyes, stated that the bill is the most important thing anyone in Congress will do ‘in their legislative lifetimes’. She knows it will pass, not because of the vicious, slimy White House whip campaign, but because she has, you guessed it, faith:

I have no intention of not passing this bill. I have faith in my members that we’ll be passing this.

Hallelujah! Now let’s pass out the snakes!


So here we are. The House of Representatives has been traded to the Senate for a pack of cigarettes, and our mighty so-called Progressive Caucus (excepting Kucinich of course) has been reduced to a worthless pack of gibbering fanatics, scourging themselves until the elections in the fall. If only they have faith. If only WE have faith.

Faith in the Senate, which has done so much to earn our trust.

Faith in the health care bill, which as I’ve shown is a pile of myths and lies.

Faith in President Obama, who will go right back to believing in the Public Option, as soon as he signs a bill that turns Americans into the chattel of the Insurance Lobby.

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or vomit.

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