Friday, July 17, 2009

Obama's vision of Competition (and other Obama-care dreams)

Pelosi July 17, 2009:"We have the support of the doctors (AMA), the nurses and the American people"

This past week Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives has made public their draft of comprehensive health care plan, a.k.a. Obama-care. President Obama is doing campaign events and (scripted) town hall meetings promoting the any day now democrat success in passing a Obama-care bill. The Democratic National Committee is running campaign ads targeting wavering moderate-conservative Senate democrats to gin up pressure for them to fall in line and vote 'yes'. Obama and the democratic leadership are promoting a sense of urgency as they did with the Stimulus bill. Republicans are once again cut out of negotiations leaving democrats alone to get their members to fall in line behind another massively expensive bill , again similar to the Economic Recovery (Stimulus) (Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2009) bill.
What are the crisis arguments that Obama is using to once again get the public to rally behind him again?

Obama July 1, 2009 : "Unless we act, within a decade, one out of every $5 we earn will be spent on health care. And for those who rightly worry about deficits, the amount our government spends on Medicare and Medicaid will eventually grow larger than what our government spends today on everything else combined -- everything else combined."

Obama : " In the last nine years, premiums have risen three times faster than wages for the average family. I don't need to tell you this because you've seen it in your own lives. Even if you've got health insurance -- and 46 million people don't -- if you've got health insurance, you have seen your costs double. They've gone up three times faster than wages. If we do nothing, then those costs are just going to keep on going higher and higher."

They are "If we don't do anything now Medicaid and Medicare will grow larger than all the government spending today". "More and more people will lose their health insurance". "Small Companies will not be able to compete with those overseas" . Notice these are all negative-negative prediction arguments. If we don't pass this plan then these bad things will happen. Does this sound familiar? "If we don't pass TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) immediate the stock market will crash and the country will go into recession" and " If we don't pass this stimulus (economic recovery ) plan unemployment will exceed 8%" . The country sheepishly went along with those two bills and the negative predictions came true anyway, with trillions of dollar of debt and a takeover of the economy by the federal government. Notice we were promised few if any positive results from these massive government interventions into the economy that could be used as a measure of success. In both cases we were promised doom if we didn't fall in line. In both cases we were told that the failure of these bills was because things must have been worse before the bills than they thought, but both were a success. This makes it difficult to be optimistic about another expensive crisis bill.

Obama : "In recent years, over one-third of small businesses have reduced benefits and many have dropped coverage altogether since the early '90s -- not because small business owners don't want to provide benefits to their workers, but they just simply can't afford it; they don't have the money. If we don't act, that means that more people are going to lose coverage and more people are going to lose their jobs because those businesses are not going to be competitive."

Obama and democrats do promise some positive results on Obama-care. That we (who are we?) will pay less in health care insurance costs (as will the country as a whole) , we will get to keep our own health insurance if we are happy with it, and it will help bring the deficit under control. Unfortunately the specific details of the current democrat's draft bill's contradict all of these Obama's talking points. It looks like it will cost more, run up even bigger deficits and joblessness and will make it difficult to keep your doctor and health insurance plan. One example is that the abortion will be in the required minimum set of benefit your health insurance must provide to avoid the 8% payroll tax. The other is the current CBO (Congressional Budget Office)estimate of how much the current democrat plans will cost. Lastly is that the taxes to pay for it will fall on small businesses, as will the 8 % payroll taxes killing off any small business private sector jobs.

Obama :"I also strongly believe that one of the options in the exchange should be a public option, in order for us to create some competition for the private insurers to keep them honest. If they are in fact giving good service and providing high-quality coverage, then that's where people will want to go."

Being a (Peter) Schiff-ist free-marketeer I have to comment on a line Obama repeats over and over that "We need a public option to compete with the private health insurance companies to keep them honest". He says that if private insurance companies really offer a good deal that makes us happy then we will reject the public option. Yet what does he mean by compete? He means that the government will apply a number of mandates and regulations to what is already the most regulated private industry in America. He will require that the private insurance companies must accept already sick customers and provide a set of minimum set of benefits such as abortion. On the other side those on the public option will have the government impose the same price controls on doctors as medicare and medicaid. That will create a even bigger pool for the insurers to that will force the doctors to cost shift to those on private plans while forcing businesses to shift to the public plan. This is why the left is sure that the public plan will lead to a single payer system while Obama sells it as competition (an anti-socialist term.)

Bernie Sandors on FNC to Megan Kelly July 17, 2009: “ We have to do something or costs will destroy this country”, “We are spending MORE than any other country on health care and getting the least” ,”Only those rich fat cats on Wall Street who got big bonuses will have to pay to insure us all

Let me propose a public option alternative to Obama-care to truly 'compete' with private insurance :
1) Obama care should get no tax money to support it. It needs to survive on it's insurance premiums alone like the private insurance he plans to compete with. That means no tax increases, especially not on job producers. The uninsured can be treated free on all the 'cost savings' and 'efficiency' of the publicly run government Obama-care option ,as can those already ill. Heck, healthy Obama supporters will sign up in droves to cost share with all the drug addicts and homosexuals that already have aids, right?
2) Private Health Insurance Companies should be given the freedom to offer insurance across state lines and not be required to provide a minimum set of benefits set by state law. Those minimum benefits will now be provided by Obama-care and will not be needed by private companies as with those that are all ready sick. Let the young and healthy be allowed to buy insurance at a price that is related to their risk and desired coverage using the private companies if they desire. Let private health insurance be like auto-insurance, based on risk.
3) Make everyone be required to have health insurance that covers emergency rooms. This mandate is required simply because both parties demand that anyone requiring emergency service be treated without payment (yet if you have assets or significant taxable income and don't pay they can destroy your credit rating, but otherwise it is free.) The mandate for this emergency room service takes care of the claim of Obama that we need to give free health care covering abortions because we pay for it anyway when the uninsured walk in an emergency room. I understand this is anti-libertarian but so is the current laws that drive up our taxes now.
4) The President, Vice President and Congress must give up their current government funded health care plans and either pay cash or be covered by the Obama-care government option as long as they are in office.

I know these ideas would never be passed by either party used to give-aways and were made to simply show that Obama-care claim of a government option to promote competition is complete political non-sense. Obama is going to tax your employer to pay for a government option to compete with the private insurance your employer gives you? Plus add costly mandates on that insurance?

Lastly. this is the first big political battle that counts. There was no chance to stop the stimulus politically. But this could be Obama's Stalingrad, he cant withdraw, he cant hold his supply lines as liberals in MSM are already talking about democrats proposal being a disaster likely to fail, at least without a re-write. This week MSNBC Hardball host Chris Mathews said it was mistake for democrats to go alone on the stimulus bill and should scrap the current health care bills and go bi-partition. MSNBC Ed Schulz rants daily about weak kneed democrats wavering on the government option and demands they cut republicans out completely and fall in line on a government option, as a way to get to single payer (Canadian/England care.) This is finally our moment to stop the Obama-revolution as Conservative Senator DeMint implied recently. Let's not blow it.


  1. I pray this bill goes down to defeat.

  2. I have posted a few of my ideas for health care reform on my blog. If you have any of your own, please post. Let's give our side some alternatives to combat this grand scheme.