Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives seem to think they have the votes to ram a tweaked version of the Senate plan through, perhaps even today. That makes this afternoon perhaps the last opportunity for sanity to assert itself in the health care field for a generation.
The latest poll numbers show that more Americans oppose the DemCare plan than support it, but that opposition evidently doesn’t discourage Democrats and won’t stop them from pushing their agenda – something liberals have wanted for, in President Obama’s words, over a century – on the rest of us.
The premise, to the extent that liberals’ health care agenda can be said to have one, is that medical care is too expensive and that cost must be distributed to non-patients in order for patient care to be affordable under the guiding hand of the federal government.
Moreover, liberals assert, other western nations have embraced a nationalized system of medical care, therefore America should as well, regardless of cost and quality questions that abound in Canada, Britain, and elsewhere.
This is flawed thinking. First, the Democrats’ embrace of a need-based policy agenda is based on a false principle, namely that need should drive government action as a policy engine. This is incorrect. America’s national government exists for 2 reasons, to facilitate interstate commerce and to ensure national security. Obviously individual health care situations are not part of its mandate.
Second, the notion that the federal government can efficiently and without prejudice administer a national health care system is patently wrong. This is amply demonstrated by the existing Medicare, Social Security, and Veteran’s Health programs, none of which are shining examples of quality, balanced budgets, or low cost.
Third, liberals consistently refuse to examine the reasons behind the exploding cost of delivering health care in this country. This is because they are in large part responsible for cost increases because of the distorting effect programs like the aforementioned Medicare have on the market.
Root causes matter and beyond that warping of markets is a more insidious problem with liberal welfare programs: People paying for services with other people’s money have little or no incentive to be efficient.
The truth is that we’ve come to expect far too much in the way of medical services, to the point that we as a people seemingly cannot accept the fact that our bodies inevitably decline and fail, no matter how many resources are applied to keeping them alive. Yet we have to realize that medical science never saves lives – it merely prolongs them – and that there are real costs to doing so, costs that must be paid. Needless to say, paying is not the strong suit of liberalism.
The fact that other nations have embraced national health care systems is in itself not a recommendation given that citizens in those countries who can afford to often choose to come to the U.S. for their medical care because of timeliness and quality concerns at home.
Health care is and always will be a scarce commodity, one that’s rationed by one force or another. We know what Democrats want to do. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure that the rationing is done by efficient market forces rather than a bloated, under-performing federal government by raising hell with our representatives until they do the right thing.
President Obama says this about Congress and health care:
"This is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself: ‘Doggone it, this is exactly why I came here.’"
If that’s really true, we’ve got the wrong people in Congress. And if that’s the case, the cure is 7 months away.