Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Obamacare Gives Me Agita!

Only government employees can come up with a product that will cost more, that practically no one likes, and requires two or three thousand pages to describe, which no one of them has read. Oh, and it all has to be done by Christmas or the nasty bits of the Book of Revelations might come about a little early.

I'm talking healthcare reform here, Folks! What was the undoing of the Clinton Administration with Hillarycare now stands a good chance of passing the Senate in the next couple of days -- "a Christmas present for the people", the all-but-embalmed Nancy Pelosi calls it.

Thanks, Nan! But I'll take coal, thank you very much!

Not one Republican senator will vote for this monstrosity. Hey, they even have to buy the votes of Democrats! No one really wants this, except, of course, for the Cloward-Piven elitists of academia, The Messiah Obama, and folks who just don't understand economics.

But we're going full speed ahead with this nightmare, all so Saint Barrak can cross healthcare off his list of promises. Folks! We are so screwed!

First, let's look at the stuff the Left doesn't like about the proposals as they currently stand:
  1. It doesn't quite cover all the people that it promises. I know! The 55 million quote of people uninsured is a complete fabrication (subtract illegal aliens; folks who are just between jobs and soon to be covered again; people who choose not to buy insurance and the total is just a couple of million) but we were promised that all those millions of "uninsured" would get coverage. Saint Obama is falling a bit short here.

  2. It looks like there will be restrictions on taxpayer funded abortions. Abortion, you see, is not just a right. It's an entitlement, you male chauvinist, sexist pig! What good is the right to abortion if you can't get the taxpayer to pay for it? This sentiment is best illustrated by Montag's Immutable Law of Nature Number Eight.

  3. It seems that, among the horse trading needed to get all the Democrats on board, someone left out the public option. Ah, but you Progressives won't have to worry about that for long. Just wait for the conference. That's when all your favorite stuff will be put back in under the cover of night.

  4. It doesn't punish the insurance companies enough. After all, how can we have Universal Healthcare if there are still private companies providing insurance?
Yes We Can! Er... kinda'... sort of... well, almost. Hey Lefties! Buyer's remorse setting in yet?

Oh, yes! The Left is quite bitter about this Marxist attempt to conquer one sixth of the nation's economy. You can tell when, even though it's their own senators holding up the "reforms", they still attack the Republicans, whom they had already decided not to include in their machinations. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), had this to say about the GOP:

"Voting 'no' and hiding from the vote are the same result. Those of us on the floor see it. It was clear the three of them who did not cast their yes votes until all 60 Senate votes had been tallied and it was clear that the result was a foregone conclusion. And why? Why all this discord and discourtesy, all this unprecedented destructive action? All to break the momentum of our new young president.

They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist. That is one powerful reason. It is not the only one."

Can anyone recall the Democrats being courteous and non-destructive during the previous administration? As I recall, they even blamed George Bush for the No Child Left Behind Act, and that was written by Ted Kennedy (who, by the way, has just reached about five months sober!)

Sure, there is disquiet on The Messiah's Left flank, but there is an awful lot to dislike from the perspective of a Conservative:
  1. Taxes, taxes, and, oh yeah! More taxes! These all start in the very first year of enactment, while the actual programs don't begin until 2014. There are also cuts in Medicare funding, which will make coverage for the elderly more expensive. And the added expense for business, particularly small business, is just what we need with unemployment surpassing 10% in a recession. We might have healthcare, but we won't have jobs!

  2. While the words "death panels" might not actually appear in either the House or the Senate versions of the bill, we're still looking at unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats deciding such things as what insurance we must buy, what treatments will or will not be available, and which patients will be able to actually access such treatments. Many times, these decisions will be based upon the age of the patient, his "lifestyle" (Want to bet that smokers will get the same treatment as, say, promiscuous gays?), previous health conditions, likely number of "meaningful" years of life (to be decided by said bureaucrats) and so on and so forth.

  3. Despite the fact that, at least so far, the public option doesn't seem to be in play, let's not forget the fact every social program we have today was supposed to be far more limited than they actually became. The current healthcare reform plans are merely the point of the wedge that will drive all private healthcare providers and insurers out of business and supplant them with top/down, command-and-control, full tilt Marxist hegemony over yet another big part of America's withering private sector.
OK! Enough about what the Left and I are against. What am I for? What do I propose to solve our healthcare woes?

Well, considering that almost every poll shows that 80% or more of Americans are actually quite satisfied with their healthcare coverage, perhaps we are trying to solve a "problem" that doesn't quite exist. I wouldn't be the first time. Just consider "Dopenhagen". Sometimes, our political class just needs the courage and the wisdom to simply do nothing.

But, if we really think we need to meddle, let's take a page from the Cato Institute:
  1. Let individuals control their health care dollars, and free them to choose from a wide variety of health plans and providers.
  2. Move away from a health care system dominated by employer-provided health insurance. Health insurance should be personal and portable, controlled by individuals themselves rather than government or an employer. Employment-based insurance hides much of the true cost of health care to consumers, thereby encouraging over-consumption. It also limits consumer choice, since employers get final say over what type of insurance a worker will receive. It means people who don’t receive insurance through work are put at a significant and costly disadvantage. And, of course, it means that if you lose your job, you are likely to end up uninsured as well.
  3. Changing from employer to individual insurance requires changing the tax treatment of health insurance. The current system excludes the value of employer-provided insurance from a worker’s taxable income. However, a worker purchasing health insurance on their own must do so with after-tax dollars. This provides a significant tilt towards employer-provided insurance, which should be reversed.Workers should receive a standard deduction, a tax credit, or, better still, large Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for the purchase of health insurance, regardless of whether they receive it through their job or purchase it on their own.
  4. We need to increase competition among both insurers and health providers. People should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. One study estimated that that adjustment alone could cover 17 million uninsured Americans without costing taxpayers a dime.
  5. We also need to rethink medical licensing laws to encourage greater competition among providers. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, and other non-physician practitioners should have far greater ability to treat patients. Doctors and other health professionals should be able to take their licenses from state to state. We should also be encouraging innovations in delivery such as medical clinics in retail outlets.
  6. Congress should give Medicare enrollees a voucher, let them choose any health plan on the market, and let them keep the savings if they choose an economical plan. Medicare could even give larger vouchers to the poor and sick to ensure they could afford coverage.
  7. The expansion of “health status insurance” would protect many of those with preexisting conditions. States may also wish to experiment with high risk pools to ensure coverage for those with high cost medical conditions.
We don't really need a government run healthcare system. They never worked well where they were tried. Of course, should you want government to fund healthcare, there is a way that is also quite free market. This was proposed 15 years ago, again by the Cato Institute:
  1. Take all the money we spend on Medicare/Medicaid right now and give each adult American citizen (I know! How exclusionary of me! ) a voucher that can only be deposited in special accounts for this purpose. These accounts will accrue interest, but disbursements can only be made to insurance providers or medical providers. Smaller vouchers will be given to parents for each child, so family coverage becomes available.

  2. Require every recipient of said vouchers to purchase catastrophic health insurance with high deductibles. Such policies will be for major illnesses and such and should have quite low premiums for the vast majority of people.

  3. Each American then pays for routine healthcare expenses from the amount in his healthcare savings account. Again, the checks drawn from this account can only go to insurance or medical providers.

  4. Each year, whatever is left over in the account rolls over to the next year, giving the recipient more each year, provided he spends it wisely.

  5. At the end of ten years, the recipient can choose to keep the excess money in the account or pocket it for his own uses.
The beauty of this idea is that it gets the government out of the medical coverage business
( Medicare/Medicaid ) while putting the consumer in charge of the actual expenditures. At the same time, medical providers are forced to compete for customers as they never had to under our current system or under Obamacare. This will keep prices much lower and encourage innovation. Meanwhile, the consumer has incentive to avoid unnecessary medical procedures and to keep an eye on possible fraud -- fraud to which Medicare/Medicaid and, ultimately Obamacare, are all too susceptible.

Ah! The free market! It works every time it's tried!

It's just a shame that our governing class just can't seem to let go of all that power.

Copyright Dec. 22, 2009


Charles Indelicato said...

First off, get it right: it is agita.

Excellent points, Greg. And the Cato is always a worthy read.

Add to it the Heritage Foundation's Six Key Issues the House Must Cave On Before Obamacare Becomes Law and you'll see this foolishness is anything but assured.

We must hope and pray this bill doesn't survive the House & Senate Conference Committee!

Montag said...

Hey, Charlie!

You are correct and I have fixed the misspelling!

Unfortunately, it doesn't look good for us Conservative/Libertarian folk. As Christopher Monckton said of the Dopenhagen summit, something will pass, it has to pass. The sad thing is, it is in the conference committee that the worst harm is done.

On the other hand, Life is good, don't you think?