What’s a day without a few more horror stories from the health care front?

The bad news is that there is always enough, well, bad news coming out about the administration’s unpopular health care reform to keep your humble scribbler occupied.

Today’s round-up:

Hotel California: A piece in the Wall Street Journal quotes the famous dictum that California is like the rest of the country, only more so. In a matter of days, the state of California is setting up the kind of health insurance “exchanges” that will be the future for all of us, if the administration’s system is not repealed and replaced. It doesn’t look good:

The California plan passed the legislature in August with the support of soon-to-depart Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will sign them before the end of the month. The overwhelming sentiment among the authors we spoke with is that the brute force of limiting the number of plans will lower costs. “The only way to drive price, to drive value, is the power to say no,” as one of them told us.

In other words, less competition is the best way to drive down costs. The irony is that the California insurance market today functions reasonably well because consumers have plenty of choices. By historical accident-the political left that dominates Sacramento is preoccupied with single payer and has killed incremental proposals-state regulatory authority is divided between two state agencies, one loaded with mandates, and the other loosely regulated. Naturally, the second group has climbed to 91% of the small-business market and 48% of the individual one.

James Capretta, one of the best health care analysts in the business, comments on what he calls the “hostile takeover” of American health care by the government:

It’s now been six months since Congress passed Obamacare – not a long time given the sweeping nature of the legislation and the long phase-in schedule for its most significant provisions. Even so, it is already abundantly clear that Obamacare’s critics were dead right: The new health law has set in motion a government takeover of American health care, and a very hostile one at that. The Obama administration’s clumsy and overbearing behavior since its passage proves the point.

Capretta notes the hostile statements to insurers made by HHS Secretary Sebelius and the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to run Medicare and Medicaid and adds:

In the meantime, busy beavers in various corners of the federal bureaucracy are laying plans for new fiefdoms. Thousands of new employees are planned for various offices in HHS, including the new office to regulate private health insurance nationwide. The IRS is gearing up both to enforce with tax penalties the requirement that everyone carry government-approved insurance, and to help administer the massive new entitlement program that will require income verification on tens of millions of applicants. States will also be forced to build new bureaucracies to carry out the scores of tasks the federal government will be ordering them to perform.

(Sebelius defends her position in today’s Wall Street Journal, saying that insurers “finally” have some oversight. Raise your hand if you believe more government oversight is what’s needed in this country.)

Meanwhile, a round-up report from the Galen Institute tunes into the angst employers are feeling about the increased paperwork the reform will bring. But it’s not just the red tape. U. S businesses are scared of the higher costs for these “free” benefits will mean. Indeed, Rep. Charles Boustany, a physician representing Louisiana, is quoted calling the news system a “class Ponzi Scheme.”