Promise me anything
By Marvin Olasky
Sally Pipes is president of the Pacific Research Institute and the author of False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All (Encounter). I interviewed her on Feb. 6, just after that book came out, and just before COVID-19 hit the headlines. Her analysis makes me realize that we have not only a political problem but a cultural problem affecting both supply of doctors and demand for their time.
After Hillarycare crashed and burned in the 1990s, why didn’t Republicans from 2003 to 2006, when they controlled both the White House and Congress, do anything regarding healthcare? That is a million-dollar question. If they had come up with a good solution focusing on competition and choice, empowering doctors and hospitals, doctors and patients, I don’t think we’d be in this mess today.
Not enough poor constituents in Republican congressional districts? Most people in the Senate and House and in state legislatures find it confusing and complicated. They don’t want to get into the weeds about preexisting conditions and all that. The way to deal with that problem is for the federal government to give significant funding to create high-risk pools so those people can get affordable coverage and continuous coverage.
Both political parties and most Americans agree that our current system is very messy. Do we need to go one way or the other, toward competition or toward socialism? The Democrats’ public option idea is a stepping-stone approach to single-payer: Government would price its premiums for coverage lower than the private sector could, and therefore would crowd out private coverage. But the American people don’t understand what it means to have the government fully take over their healthcare. They should look at the Department of Veterans Affairs, an example of a true single-payer system. Long waits, rationed care, and lack of access in many cases to the latest treatments . . .