But it needn’t be Obamacare.
Pay close attention to the health care proposals the government is
rolling out this week. It’s a massive overhaul. Which may sound good,
It’s one thing to reform health care, it’s another to take it over.
For starters, President Obama unequivocally endorses the
creation of a new government-run insurance option for working age
Americans and their families. For weeks, Senator Baucus has hinted
that, well, maybe such an option isn’t necessary. That led many on the
left to put pressure back on Democrats in Congress to deliver what they
had promised — or else. With the president’s re-endorsement of the
idea (he supported it during his campaign), it is now inconceivable
that the Democrats won’t include a heavily price-controlled
government-run plan in the bill they try to pass.
The Obama letter also endorses a so-called “individual mandate” — a
requirement that everyone enroll in some kind of insurance or pay a
penalty. During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama made a big deal
of opposing this idea — which was the centerpiece of Senator Hillary
Clinton’s reform agenda. Now, however, he has flip-flopped — as
Politico reported — and endorsed it…
The government can’t make people buy insurance if they
can’t afford it, so there needs to be an expansive new health-insurance
The bill will be enormously expensive, at a time when the federal government is already running massive budget deficits.
So what will the federal government do?
The Obama letter floats the idea which has been making
the rounds among Democrats for weeks. Instead of making tough budgetary
choices themselves, they are now hoping they can simply require some
unelected, unaccountable advisory group — the Medicare Payment Advisory
Commission (MedPac) — to find the savings for them.
This is the worst of all possible worlds. Call it the black box of
government-driven rationing of care. MedPac — or any other federal
agency for that matter — would be working from the same laundry list of
price-controls and fee cuts that Congress has always used to try to
control costs in governmental health programs. The idea that somehow an
existing or new agency will discover new ways to painlessly reduce
costs is a fiction. They would end up doing what every other government
around the world has done — impose artificial cost limits on providers
of services, which will reduce the number of willing suppliers and lead
to waiting lists and queues.
And the Republicans say what?
That a government insurance option is a terrible idea. No surprise
there. But this should be a debate, and here’s the other side.
“At a time when major government programs like Medicare
and Medicaid are already on a path to fiscal insolvency, creating a
brand new government program will not only worsen our long term
financial outlook but also negatively impact American families who
enjoy the private coverage of their choice,” said the letter, signed by
all but one of the Finance Republicans.
If there’s one key point to focus on for now, it’s probably this:
Obama says his plan would allow Americans to keep
private coverage. But Republicans say once a government insurance
program is created, it will eventually dominate the market, driving
private insurers out of business.
Which is what the Heritage Foundation’s expert Bob Moffitt has been saying, with plenty of expertise and research to back it up.
The President says that Congress can create a “level
playing field” nationwide to ensure a fair competition between the
newly created public plan and private health plans and that Americans
who like the private health insurance coverage that they have today
will be able to keep it and pay less. This claim is simply not credible.
In fact, independent analysis estimates that millions of Americans
would be crowded out of their private coverage through the introduction
of a public plan, depending on the level of payment and the size of the
pool for eligible enrollees in such a new option.
Moreover, with an employer mandate–forcing employers to offer a
federally approved level or benefits or to pay a payroll tax–there
would be powerful incentives for employers to pay a tax and dump
employees into the public plan. The vast majority of working Americans
under 65, after all, get their health insurance through employers.
Those who do not have to buy health policies in the individual market
are subjected to tax and regulatory penalties.
If Congress creates a public plan, it is likely to be too big to fail, as is the case with so many other enterprises,
(though they said that about GM, and now look…)
thereby guaranteeing even greater burdens on taxpayers
who are already faced with the seemingly insurmountable debt imposed by
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
President Obama wants transparency and an active citizen participation in government. This debate needs both.