Remember how there were going to be a bunch of hearings on Capitol Hill concerning the plans of certain big businesses to try and game the health care bill?
Ever wonder what happened to all those planned hearings?
Turns out that they may well have been put on indefinite hold when it looked like they might reveal a few big fat flaws in the bill that Max Baucus' good friend and WellPoint VP Liz Fowler wrote.
More after the jump.
Per Fortune magazine (via CNNMoney):
Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill's critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.
That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama's statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we'll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America's employers would remain the backbone of the nation's health care system.
Hence, health-care reform risks becoming a victim of unintended consequences. Amazingly, the corporate documents that prove this point became public because of a different set of unintended consequences: they told a story far different than the one the politicians who demanded them expected.
So how much money would these companies save if they paid fines rather than paid for insurance?
In AT&T's case, $4 billion a year. ($600 million to pay fines, $4.6 billion to pay for health insurance.) And that's just one company:
"By Fortune's reckoning, each person who's dropped would cost the government an average of around $2,100 after deducting the extra taxes collected on their additional pay," Tully wrote. "So if 50% of people covered by company plans get dumped, federal health care costs will rise by $160 billion a year in 2016, in addition to the $93 billion in subsidies already forecast by the" Congressional Budget Office.
Of course, if we'd included a money-saving public option in the bill, instead of letting a WellPoint executive write it, then we wouldn't be facing this situation.