Advocate of State-Monopoly Health Care: “We Are Winning”

Commenting on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s recent musing that he would like to re-launch last year’s failed tax-hiking, choice-limiting, health “reform”, State Senator Sheila Kuehl delivered a chilling post-mortem: “We are winning.”

“We” are the advocates for government-monopoly health care. Ms. Kuehl has been leading a gang of militant trade unionists and other malcontents in a long war to drive individual choice out of health care in California. Her bill, SB-840, already vetoed but subsequently re-introduced, would establish a Canadian-style government monopoly over California health care. (Being a career politician, she knows how to soft-pedal her agenda, but I have debunked it in harsher, more realistic terms.)

Surprisingly, I agree with much of today’s analysis. Indeed, she, like I, was opposed to the Schwarzenegger-Nuñez Health Care Deforminator Model ABX1 1. But I opposed it because it was built on flawed evidence, an unnecessary tax increase, and a violation of basic insurance principles. She opposed it because it didn’t beat up the health plans enough.

Schwarzenegger-Nuñez ABX1 1 did lay on a heavy dose of over-regulation, but not the type that Sen. Kuehl likes best: it did not regulate premiums that health plans could charge. Sen. Kuehl cannot afford to approve any “reform” that lets this one slip by, because she (surely) knows that regulating health premiums can only lead to citizens becoming more frustrated with private health care.

Premiums are going up because the costs of providing health care are going up, not because profits are going up, as a paper by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (among others) shows. But Sen. Kuehl and her allies would love nothing more than to pass rate regulation, and wait for the “proof” to roll in that “we can’t count on private health plans,” as most flee the state and the rest can only pay for sub-standard care.

So, Sen. Kuehl dealt ABX1 1 the death blow last January in the Senate Health Committee. She points out, as have I, that the number of Californians favoring a government take-over of health care has significantly increased, and the number favoring “individual responsibility”, has decreased since the curtain dropped on Schwarzenegger’s health care drama. Furthermore, Californians’ views of the credibility of various interest groups shows that the reputation of health plans continues to sink in the mud, while that of the militant (one might even be tempted to say “violent”) California Nurses Association has grown.

Sen. Kuehl concludes: “We are winning,” and I fear that she may be right. But recall that California’s health plans, with the exception of Anthem Blue Cross (WellPoint), aided and abetted the enemy by supporting Gov. Schwarzenegger’s “reform.”

And the latest polling shows where it got them. If they want to survive in the long term, California’s health plans must turn their back on Schwarzenegger-style government-run health care.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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