President Obama gives us a false choice on health care: his way or the status quo. Nobody wants the status quo, and Republicans have real alternatives. The real choice is whether we have a single-payer, government run health care system.
“The health care system in America is broken. Costs are rising at an unacceptable rate – more than doubling over the last 10 years, which is nearly four times the rate of wage growth. Too many patients feel trapped by healthcare decisions dictated by HMOs. Too many doctors are torn between practicing medicine and practicing insurance. And 47 million Americans worry what will happen to them or their children if they get sick.”
Who do you think said that? President Obama? Actually, those words were written by Republicans. They are part of the summary of the Patients’ Choice Act ( H.R. 2520 ) introduced this May by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the House and by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) in the Senate (S. 1099).
To hear it from President Obama, the choice is simple: his plan or the status quo. He is wrong on both counts: he has no plan, and the Republicans do. In fact, Republicans have introduced meaningful health care reform for years.
In the 1990s, Republicans tried to change Medicare into a defined-contribution model, more along the lines of the plan that federal employees enjoy. The Republican-controlled Congress passed such legislation in 1995, but President Clinton vetoed it. Seeing the future impacts of Medicare costs, President Clinton set up a bipartisan Medicare Commission headed by John Breaux (D-LA). The Breaux Commission came up with a similar plan in 1999. Democrats killed that too.
When Republicans did have everything but a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, 2003-06, they gave us Health Savings Accounts and prescription coverage under Medicare (although I was against the latter). Given Democrats were not shy about using the filibuster, those were significant achievements.
More recently, Republican precursors to the Patients’ Choice Act were introduced in the House in July 2007, May 2008 and September 2008. All died in the Democrat-controlled House. There is also the Health Care Freedom Act ( S. 1324 ) introduced in the Senate this June by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
Regarding President Obama’s plan: he doesn’t have one. The plan everyone is debating in town halls is the Affordable Health Choices Act ( H.R. 3200 ) introduced in the House by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). This is “Obama’s plan” only in the sense that it has a “public option” in it, something Obama insists on. (Therefore called “ObamaCare” herein.)
The Congressional Budget Office defines the problem :
“The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, primarily because of rapidly rising spending on health care… Medicare’s Part A trust fund… will have insufficient funds to pay for all covered services starting in 2017.”
The word “affordable” is part of Obamacare’s real title. President Obama sold it (at least originally) as a cost-cutting move.
Well, the CBO did a cost analysis of Obamacare and estimated it would cost $1 trillion over the next 10 years and insure an extra 16 million people (of about 50 million estimated to be uninsured). That’s right, one trillion dollars to insure an extra 5% of the population.
On its very face, Obamacare fails ignominiously. Its reason for being was to save money, but it will cost a trillion dollars! And even after 10 years, it will cover only a third of the uninsured. (The math works out to $6,250 per additional person insured, or six times more than the HSA-qualified plan I have now.)
Jim DeMint’s Health Care Freedom Act is estimated to insure an extra 22.4 million people, at no net cost to the government. Also, tort reform alone could save perhaps $200 B per year or more according to a Pacific Research Institute study. If it really saves only half that, or one trillion dollars over 10 years, it would save as much as Obamacare would cost.
Ready for your multiple-choice test?
(a) Do nothing, for zero extra cost and 85% of the population insured.
(b) Obamacare, for a cost of one trillion dollars and 90% insured in 2020.
(c) A Republican plan, for no tax increases or new government spending, lower overall costs, and 92% or more insured in 2015.
If you bother to read Obamacare, things only get worse. First, it is 1,017 pages. (The Patients’ Choice Act is 248 pages. DeMint’s plan is 82 pages. The Social Security Act of 1935 fits on 31 pages.) And those pages describe a bloody nightmare of interconnected organizations with ambiguous responsibilities and rules.
This legislation will have to be interpreted by bureaucrats and judges, and what they come up with will be a crapshoot. For all we know, or can know, the government might very well deny an expensive anti-cancer drug to a “futile” patient in 10 years, but offer her a nice, affordable, suicide pill. Obama can give us his word that that won’t happen, but the words that count are the ones in those 1,017 pages and how bureaucrats will interpret them years after Obama is out of office.
What is really going on? Simple. The choice is not between Obamacare and the status quo. Neither side likes the status quo, and Republicans have real alternatives. But what the two sides want are completely opposite things. Republicans want to move toward free markets and individual ownership, and Democrats want to move to single-payer and, well, socialism.
There, I used the s-word. I do not do so lightly. Recall that the critical piece of ObamaCare is the “public option.” Since I brought up the s-word, let’s go to the horse’s mouth on that: Sam Webb , National Chair of the Communist Party USA this June.
“In this legislative session, we can envision winning a Medicare-like public option and then going further in the years ahead… socialism is our objective… The core of this struggle, whether we like it or not, turns on the inclusion of a public option in a health care bill.”
To make this point even more clear, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is on video answering the question, “why not single-payer now?” “Because we don’t have the votes for it. I wish we did. I think if we get a good public option, it could lead to single-payer and that’s the best way to reach single-payer.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) is also on video . “Next to me was a guy from the insurance company, who then argued… that a public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single-payer. My single-payer friends, he was right. The man was right!”
Barack Obama was also recorded in 2003 saying, “I happen to be a proponent of the single-payer universal health care plan. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.”
There is really no fuzz on this. The “public option” is the pre-meditated stepping-stone to single-payer, and what the Communist Party admits is “the core of this struggle.”
I, as a conservative/libertarian, have argued for universal coverage in the American Thinker well before this current debate. We can get more than 85% of us covered without a single-payer system, as have multiple countries from Australia to Switzerland and Japan. And we can cut costs and reduce government intrusion in a multitude of ways, from tort reform and reduced insurance mandates to regulatory and tax changes. And Republicans have proposed specific legislation to do that.
But this is not about universal coverage. The real battle is over single-payer, government-run health care.
Why isn’t this debated in the open? Why obfuscate the agenda with a “public option” and 1,000 pages of confusion and ambiguity? Because, as Barney Frank said, they don’t have the votes. So instead, they have a hidden agenda, one that coincides with the Communist Party’s agenda.
As Rep. Schakowsky said, “This is not a principled fight. This is a fight about strategy for getting there [single-payer].”
This is a fight all right. How about we bring principles to this unprincipled fight? We don’t ask for much. Just a bill that does what it’s supposed to (cut costs) and doesn’t do what it’s not supposed to (socialize one fifth of the economy).
Randall Hoven can be contacted via his web site, kulak.worldbreak.com .