Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tricking the People: Same ol’ Health-scare, but likely worse… by Julie Ranson

As is usually the case with thorny political issues, our government continues to change the terminology used in the healthcare debate. We’re no longer talking of healthcare reform, it’s now health insurance reform. It’s so much easier to demonize those greedy, mean, benefit-denying insurance companies. Since the insurance industry is the entity with which the liberal left so desperately wishes to “compete,” the Washington leadership has quit throwing doctors under the bus by accusing them of wantonly ordering tonsillectomies and foot amputations. It's the insurance company's turn to get beat up by politicians!
We do need to talk about healthcare and health insurance reform, but... with doors wide open, minds open, and fair debate about free market principles within the healthcare industry. Cries of “foul” have emanated in this lengthy fight because of the phrases like, “government takeover” and “government-run,” as the liberals vow they have no desire for a full-fledged government program (e.g., single-payer). But the facts remain that free-market principles are being flouted in favor of solutions prescribed and managed by the government, designed to move this country to a single-payer system in a decade or so.
The evolution of our insurance system from private industry to a government-payer system WILL come to pass should the public option (now called consumer option by N. Pelosi) be included in any reform legislation. Congressional liberals have been throwing the term “competition” around a lot, as though the government can function as a competitor in the health insurance field. You and I know it will not work out well for the insurers, right? Consider a basketball game where the players are insurance firms and the referee is the government. Now, what if the referee decides he also wants to play in the game? He’s calling the game, interpreting the rules, and making plays. If you were a player, you know exactly how angry you’d likely be at any given moment in that game, don’t you? It wouldn’t be fair and it would not be a real contest. David St. Clair describes how “competition” in rate setting will eliminate private insurers:

A government-based health insurer modeled after Medicare would possess Medicare’s distinct advantage over private insurance companies: the ability to use the power of the law to set rates of reimbursement to doctors, hospitals and other care providers. Private plans, in contrast, are forced to negotiate these rates. The significance of this disparity was captured in a study by Milliman, Inc., last December which revealed that private plans shouldered a $90 billion annual cost-shift from Medicare/Medicaid. A public plan’s ability to use the legal authority of the federal government to set whatever rates it chooses, as Medicare does, would effectively eliminate any chance private plans have to be competitive. Contrary to what the Times’ editorial states, this would indeed serve as a death knell for private insurers as we know them.

While we might not come to a conclusion about what is perfect in healthcare reform, clearly we can agree that the liberals in Washington have absolutely no idea how doctors work and how the free market works. It could be they don’t care much about the free market system that has brought us choice, opportunity, and prosperity. Regardless, a lack of understanding and a lack of appreciation for the system that makes America great are still shameful behaviors for elected officials.