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Author Topic: Government-Run Health Care Plan Loaded Up With Special-Interest Giveaways  (Read 1254 times)
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« on: September 10, 2009, 05:08:28 AM »

Written in a backroom, it’s easy to understand why the House Democrats’ bill provides numerous giveaways to special-interest groups and their allies.  Here are just a few examples:

•Page 95; Section 205 – The bill directs the “Health Choices Commissioner” to conduct outreach activities, including through the use of outside organizations such as ACORN and others, to reach out and enroll exchange-eligible individuals and employers.

•Page 31-32; Section 123(a)(5) – The bill requires that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee include labor unions.  This advisory committee would be charged with recommending covered benefits for essential, enhanced, and premium plans.  Although the reference to ‘labor’ does not necessarily require a union representative or a unionized employee on the committee, the choice of that word as opposed to ‘employees’ suggests that organized labor would likely be assured a position on the advisory committee.

•Page 53; Section 154 – The bill ensures that the new federal health care program will set a floor (but not a ceiling) for health care negotiations for unionized employers.  The legislation cannot be construed to excuse them from good-faith bargaining over health care benefits.  Furthermore, it will not permit unionized employers to unilaterally drop health coverage of its employees in favor of shunting them into the government-run plan or simply paying the penalty associated with not offering health care benefits to workers. 

•Pages 533-551; Section 1412 – The bill requires the Comptroller General of the U.S. to conduct a study examining: “(A) the extent to which corporations that own or operate large numbers of nursing facilities … are undercapitalizing such facilities; (B) the effects of such undercapitalization on quality of care, including staffing and food costs, at such facilities; (C) options to address such undercapitalization, such as requirements relating to surety bonds, liability insurance, or minimum capitalization.”  This provision primarily benefits trial lawyers who sue nursing homes.

•Pages 551-569; Section 1413 – The bill requires HHS to include certain kinds of information about nursing home facilities and skilled nursing facilities on its website, including staffing, turnover, and tenure data for each facility.  It also requires the HHS Secretary to consult with labor unions representing workers at the facility in reviewing the information.  By giving labor unions a voice in deciding what information will appear on the website, the bill creates an opportunity for the unions to drive their staffing or other agendas.

•Pages 1007-1017; Sec. 2531 – The bill establishes labor union grants for the training of nurses through a partnership grant program that would award grants for collaborative programs between staff nurse organizations, health care providers, and accredited schools of nursing. Except for nursing schools, entities must work with labor unions in order to meet the eligibility requirements for receiving grant funds.  Not only do these grants have to go to joint union-run programs (unless they go directly to nursing schools), but the bill further restricts eligibility for the grants to health care employers, which pay prevailing wages and subsidize the costs of their employees’ participating in these training programs. To the extent the grant program is effective, nursing shortages will become worse in non-unionized hospitals than in unionized hospitals.  These training programs will also provide unions with access to future nurses before they even complete their training, which could make it easier for the unions to organize those nurses in the future—either because of gratitude for the union’s involvement in providing their training, or else simply due to their early access to the employees.

The American people shouldn’t be sacrificed to line the pockets of liberal, special-interest groups; they don’t want a government takeover of their health care; and they want common sense reforms to lower health care costs and increase access for those who don’t currently have health care coverage.  Shouldn’t Democrats work with Republicans on common sense solutions to deliver on the reforms the American people expect and deserve?
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