I’ve put off writing about upcoming healthcare legislation as long as I can. I guess I was hoping it would just go away. Ah well. It seems that Obama is dead set on getting this ram-rodded through, no matter what the situation is with the economy. But, that doesn’t mean it’s some kind of sure thing. Not even close. Too many people know what’s going to happen to just rubber stamp it without lots of backroom promises and deals being made. I think it’s already a slam dunk that a lot of democrats are going to lose their jobs come next November, just because of what’s happened so far. So, I guess their may be some congressmen they can peel off based on their lame duck status. I don’t know. I do know that whatever happens it’s going to be bad. Potentially really, really bad. There are so many problems with the stuff they are proposing that it’s hard to know what to cover, so this will be a multi-parter.
First off, let’s hit the big one: single-payer. The term “single payer” is Washingtonese for a single, national health insurance plan run by the Federal government and open to all citizens. It’s crucial to stop here and clearly define this debate. What’s being proposed is not government run healthcare. That’s a misnomer. What’s being proposed is government run health insurance. And you must understand that having health insurance is not the same thing as having health care. You can have all the health insurance in the world, but if there are no doctors within reach of you, it will do you no good at all. Giving someone health insurance only helps if all things remain the same as they are now. This, sadly, can not and will not be the case.
They are saying that a “single payer” system is not in the plans. Don’t buy it. It’s absolutely in the plans. That’s what the so called “government option” is supposed to accomplish. It will eradicate private insurers and leave only the government option after a short time:
The puzzle is: Why does the president, who says that were America “starting from scratch” he would favor a “single-payer” — government-run — system, insist that health-care reform include a government insurance plan that competes with private insurers? The simplest answer is that such a plan will lead to a single-payer system.
Assurances that the government plan would play by the rules that private insurers play by are implausible. Government is incapable of behaving like market-disciplined private insurers. Competition from the public option must be unfair because government does not need to make a profit and has enormous pricing and negotiating powers. Besides, unless the point of a government plan is to be cheaper, it is pointless: If the public option conforms to the imperatives that regulations and competition impose on private insurers, there is no reason for it.
Will’s point is simple. If a government option “plays by the rules” as Obama says, then it’s not even necessary. It will just be one more player in an industry that has many, many players already. If, on the other hand, it doesn’t play by the rules, there is only one thing that can happen. It will undercut every other insurance provider and eventually drive them out of business. At that point we’ll have a default single payer system, even though it was never proposed to begin with. And when that happens, and everyone has “free” health insurance, demand is going to go through the roof. Will supply match it? Of course not. And what do you do when “universal” coverage begins to tax the capacity of a finite supply of care? There’s only one thing you can do. Ration.