Consensus Of Whom?

Socialized Medicine: “Consensus” has become one of the scariest words in America. It means officials have reached agreement on how to fleece the public. And it’s being used in the same breath as “universal health care.”

“Consensus emerging on universal health care,” screamed the headline of the Web version of a Monday Los Angeles Times story.

“After decades of failed efforts to reshape the nation’s health care system,” writes Times reporter Noam N. Levey, “a consensus appears to be emerging in Washington about how to achieve the elusive goal of providing medical insurance to all Americans.”

Typically, a “consensus” in Washington indicates that both parties have conspired to hustle the taxpayers. In this case, the meaning of the word is being twisted to make it appear as if all of Washington is united in an effort to create a national health care system.

The alleged accord, says the Times, has been reached by “leading” business groups, medical facilities, physicians, unions, insurance companies, “senior lawmakers” and “members of the new Obama administration.”

In other words, Democrats and Democratic Party supporters who will rule the capital for at least two years beginning in January. Meaningful Republican support, if it even exists, is not necessary. If there were a mere one or two from the GOP who had a modest role in this latest push for universal health care, the media would be calling it a “bipartisan” effort.

Before this juggernaut imposes its will on the American people, there are some questions that need to be asked and honestly answered. Who are the uninsured? How many are there? How long have they been without coverage? And most importantly, why?

Washington should also show why it is morally acceptable to make a portion of the population pay for the medical treatment of others, and to point to exactly which provision in the Constitution allows the national government to establish a health care system.

Advocates for the uninsured say Americans without health care coverage total 44 million to 47 million — numbers they use as a blunt instrument during health care debates. It makes for a powerful talking point — until the full account is revealed.

Of the uninsured, nearly a fourth live in households that earn at least $50,000 a year, according to Census Bureau data. More than a quarter (27%) are not U.S. citizens. An Employee Benefits Research Institute study reported that 86% of the growth in the total number of uninsured between 1998 and 2003 was due to both legal and illegal immigration.

Despite the alarmist rhetoric, being uninsured is not a widespread chronic problem. Most of the uninsured go without coverage only for brief periods, such as when they are between jobs.

The National Center for Health Statistics, for instance, found that in 2005, only 29 million Americans were uninsured for more than a year. A Congressional Budget Office analysis has reported that almost 45% are uninsured four months or less.

Research done by Blue Cross Blue Shield indicates that of the uninsured households with incomes below $50,000 that didn’t qualify for public coverage, almost half went without insurance six months or less.

Advocates also fail to mention that being uninsured is often a choice. One in five Americans who have access to job-provided or employee-subsidized insurance programs decline to participate.

Age is a factor as well. Young, healthy people forgo coverage because they often have limited resources and tend to think that being sick is something that happens to old people, not them. It should be no surprise that, as the Pacific Research Institute has pointed out, one-fourth of the uninsured are under 24 and half are under 35.

A recent study found that only 38% of Americans agree the government — in reality, the taxpayers — should “definitely be responsible for health care.” While there might be a consensus in Washington, there isn’t one in the rest of the country.

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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