Stimulating, part 2

Charles Hurt takes a look inside the trilliion dollar grab bag passed by the House this week and finds “five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.”

Kimberly Strassel takes a look and finds Democrats enacting “Obama’s agenda of government-run health care — entirely on the QT.” Strassel finds that the bill dramatically expands the number of Americans who qualify for Medicaid:

Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.

The bill’s good works don’t stop with Medicaid. They extend to the continuation of group health coverage that terminated employees are afforded under COBRA:

The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.

In fact, COBRA affords terminated employees the right to continue their health coverage for up to (not “usually for about”) 18 months.

My guess is that Hurt’s and Strassel’s valuable columns only touch on the many surprises Democrats have buried in their so-called stimulus bill in their mania to create a more socialized America.

To comment on this post, go here.


Books to read from Power Line