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The real winners and losers in Senate health-care bill

  • The Senate released the details of its health-care bill on Thursday.
  • Thus far, GOP moves to "reform" health care come down to a simple, and wildly unfair, trade.
  • It's a sop to investors, largely wealthy ones, who invest in stocks, bonds, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital.
Senator Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump
Yuri Gripas | AFP | Getty Images
Senator Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump

From early reports about what's contained in the Senate's effort to repeal and replace "Obamacare" it appears that, after weeks of secret plotting and scheming, the Senate bill is not that much different from the House-passed version.

The House version was recently called "mean" by President Donald Trump, who added that he would like to see a bill that has more heart.

The Senate bill appears just as mean and heartless as its House counterpart.

When all is said and done, thus far, moves to "reform" health care come down to a simple, and wildly unfair, trade.

Capital gains taxes will be cut by nearly a trillion dollars over ten years to be financed by reductions in Medicaid spending, which will be cut by nearly a trillion dollars over the next ten years.

There's not much more to be said about a seven-year effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

"There are no good arguments for reforming health care in the manner being proposed ... None of the ills in our current system are addressed by the bill, as it appears to be written today."

It's a sop to investors, largely wealthy ones, who invest in stocks, bonds, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital.

The oldest, sickest and poorest among us will provide the financing for it. Not nice. Absolutely no heart.

There's an even greater irony. Financial markets do not need a lower capital gains tax rate to perform well and wealthy investors have hardly been deterred from investing in any market as a consequence of the surcharge imposed by Obamacare.

Quite opposite is true. There is surplus investment capital sloshing around the nation today.

Since the surcharge has been imposed during the Obama years, very few companies have been denied investment capital.

Uber, Lyft, and a host of "unicorns" have raised more than enough capital to grow their businesses since the surcharge was put in place.

The stock market sits near record highs even as I write, despite the imposition of higher cap gains taxes.

Indeed, there is still massive gap between ordinary income taxes and capital gains taxes, making investing in stocks an attractive option to most other more highly taxable options.

There are no good arguments for reforming health care in the manner being proposed. No doubt, the Affordable Care Act needs fixing. So does the insurance marketplace itself. So do many aspects of healthcare delivery in the U.S.

None of the ills in our current system are addressed by the bill, as it appears to be written today.

There is no doubt that, as an individual, I might be a big winner when it comes to health care reform, tax reform, deregulation and other aspects of the Trump/GOP agenda.

And while many people believe the business press shills for business and government, I can safely say the American Health Care Act makes me sick to my stomach.

The benefits I receive should not be financed by the poor, the sick and the elderly. I can pay my own way.

Economic policy is more often assessed by effectiveness rather than fairness.

However, the House AND Senate efforts at health-care reform will likely prove neither fair nor effective.

And it will harm the people the president promised to help the most.

The American Health Care Act should be re-named "The Mean and Heartless Act of 2017."

When all is said and done, it's certainly not American, at least not in the sense that we have always lent a hand to those who needed it most.

This bill fails miserably in that regard.

Commentary by Ron Insana, a CNBC and MSNBC contributor and the author of four books on Wall Street. Follow him on Twitter @rinsana.

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