Congressional Democrats are pushing hard to complete their health care bill before next week’s recess, but their hopes for a quick passage and the fulfilling of Obama’s goal of signing by October look increasingly bleak–especially since the drafting was done without Republican input, leading, of course, to a political firestorm. The bill would mandate health insurance coverage for all Americans at enormous taxpayer expense and require major employer contributions, though there is not yet full agreement on the specifics of the burdens that will ultimately be imposed on employers. All that is clear so far is that these burdens will be massive.
The objectives of this bill ostensibly are to provide insurance coverage for the 46 million Americans who still lack it (though apparently not all of those uninsured are actually American citizens) and lower health care costs. However, it likely will accomplish neither. First of all, the plan won’t end up covering all the uninsured even when fully implemented, according to a preliminary assessment by the Congressional Budget Office. It would leave as many as 36 million people still without coverage–truly pathetic, given the hyped ambitions of the plan.
Second, a new study published by the Pacific Research Institute points out that Medicare costs have actually grown much more than those of private health care, and that’s not even accounting for the additional costs imposed through the taxation that supports it and the distortion of the market that occurs as a necessary result of Medicare’s very existence. This is particularly important (and ironic) because what sparked this health care debate in the first place was the huge rise in health care costs over the last 40 years. So, in short, this government health care plan fails on its own terms.
To someone who believes in both the competence and goodwill of our government, this makes absolutely no sense. Congress has been shown by its own budget experts, among many others, that this plan will cause an explosion of the already astronomical federal budget deficit, and that despite its massive spending, still will fail to insure most of the people it targets. To make matters worse, this public health care program itself is by nature far less efficient than its private sector counterparts, so massive amounts of money will inevitably be wasted. That provokes the question: Why go through with this at all? To answer, one must set aside the premise that this initiative is about insuring the helpless against financial catastrophe due to injury and illness. This initiative is not about helping people. It’s about control. The more people become dependent on taxpayer-subsidized, (eventually) monopolized health care, the more voters there are who have a vital incentive to cast their ballots in favor of bigger government.
“Health care reform” is an issue today only because the political establishment has managed to pin all the blame for soaring costs on the private sector, despite the corresponding increase in cumbersome regulation over the years. When this measure fails, as even the CBO assures it will, the blame will fall yet again on the private sector–or what’s left of it.