MSNBC: The Left Rejects Free-Market Solutions to Healthcare – Pacific Research Institute

MSNBC: The Left Rejects Free-Market Solutions to Healthcare, July 22, 2009

Filling in for Keith Olbermann yesterday on MSNBC’s Countdown program, guest host David Shuster chastised Republicans for having no plan “to contain exploding healthcare costs.” So busy was Shuster smirking and sneering (like Olbermann) over the Republicans’ alleged indifference to those costs, that he neglected to mention Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf’s recent assessment that the Democrat healthcare plan would increase federal costs “to a significant degree” – because it plainly “raises future federal outlays more than it reduces future federal outlays.”

Neither did Shuster mention that Medicare, the federally funded insurance program for senior citizens, wastes as much as $1 out of every $3 it spends, even as its overall operating costs spiral out of control.

Nor did Shuster point out the legendary economic inefficiency of Medicaid, the government-run insurance program for low-income Americans, which is administered by the states but receives anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of its funding from the federal government. While the program’s costs are projected to rise by more than 100 percent over the next decade, fraud runs rampant; in New York State, for instance, 40 percent of all Medicaid claims are fraudulent.

And neither did Schuster note the similar fiscal inefficiencies or bureaucratic nightmares of SCHIP (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program), which was established 12 years ago to provide medical coverage for children in households with low incomes that nonetheless exceeded Medicaid eligibility.

Leftists like Shuster (and the Democrats in Congress) remain willfully blind to the mountains of evidence demonstrating that government-run healthcare is guaranteed only to raise overall costs, increase the incidence of fraud, and lower the standard of care.

Why do they continue to support it? That’s simple: because they believe in it. The notion that the federal government should control every aspect of people’s lives, regardless of the costs or demerits of such control, is an article of faith for the Left, not a product of reason. Conversely, leftists never offer free-market solutions to problems like healthcare reform because they abjure free markets.

In her landmark book, The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care, author Sally Pipes writes:

[T]rue reform of the health care system requires less government interference—not more. Only with a freer market can we lower costs and achieve quality universal health care. If we have universal choice in health care, we will reach universal coverage—a goal supported by all of us.

Consider Lasik corrective eye surgery. Because most insurance providers including government programs won’t cover the procedure, the market isn’t distorted by excessive regulations. Providers operate in a free market where technology is constantly advancing, price competition is fierce, and the consumer is king. Companies rise and fall according to their ability to provide customer satisfaction.

In the past decade, more than three million Lasik procedures have been performed. During that time, the average price of Lasik eye surgery has dropped nearly 40 percent, from $2,200 to $1,350 per eye.

Unfortunately, Lasik is a rare exception to the general rule. In just about every other area of health care, the government is heavily involved. So the key to lowering costs and expanding coverage is to expand the Lasik model. That means encouraging competition by decreasing government’s role in the health care marketplace.

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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