Despite the unprecedented horse-trading (that's the nice term) that top Washington Democrats Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi employed to push their massive bureaucratic takeover of American medical care through both houses of Congress on a "rush" schedule, the scheme still seems to be in trouble.
House and Senate negotiators face difficulties in resolving their differences on a single bill as thick as the Las Vegas yellow pages and are not likely to have a final draft until February, according to key House Democrats involved in ongoing talks.
"We've got a problem on both sides of the Capitol. A serious problem," the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call quoted Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., saying Tuesday evening.
"There's no agreement. No deal on anything. Nothing," one lawmaker said.
It appears House-Senate negotiators may need to continue working out their differences into February, despite earlier hopes to deliver a final bill to President Barack Obama in time for his State of the Union address.
One huge underlying problem was revealed in the poll of Nevadans conducted last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research and published in the Jan. 10 Review-Journal.
The Democratic scheme supposedly requires all Americans to buy health insurance -- which can easily cost $7,000 per family per year, and will cost more, soon. But -- in a compromise designed to avoid Draconian penalties on the poor -- the Democratic plan sets the fine for failing to do so at only $750 for an individual and $2,250 for a family.
Then insurers will be required to issue policies, at no increase in cost, even to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Anyone willing to pay the fine could thus go without insurance until discovering they have cancer, then sign up for "insurance" and immediately start sending millions of dollars worth of medical bills to their insurer.
Asked in the poll whether, under such a plan, they would pay the minimal fine and wait until becoming ill to buy insurance, 16 percent of Nevadans who already have health insurance said they'd definitely drop that insurance and wait till they got sick to re-up. Seven percent of those who currently have insurance said they'd think about it.
But the big number is among those who currently do not have insurance. Of those, 44 percent said they'd go out and buy insurance if required by law. But another 44 percent said no, they'd defy the law, pay the smaller fine and wait till they got sick to sign up.
Perhaps all the assumptions about the number of uninsured Americans who'd be newly insured once the Democrat plan goes into effect need to be cut in half.
Meantime, you don't have to be a certified public accountant to figure out what will happen to the profitability of private insurers if half the people now uninsured plan to wait till they develop an expensive injury or illness, and then go "buy insurance" at rates which insurers are forbidden to hike.
America's race toward dysfunctional and bankrupt statism had to hit a brick wall at some point. Could the wall possibly be that thing with the black and yellow diagonal stripes that Charlie Rangel now sees right in front of his windshield?