June 28, 2017

Senate GOP Health Bill Triggers Typical Leftist Hysteria

Democrats lie about people dying, while the totally unreliable CBO estimates pending disaster for coverage.

Senate Republicans released their version of the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill last week, and of course, before anyone had time to read it, Democrats and their Leftmedia attack dogs ran to the nearest microphone, hysterically declaring millions would lose health insurance and literally left to die because of the bill. It was all so predictable.

Democrats pointed to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring of the bill, which claimed 22 million Americans would lose coverage if the Senate bill was passed. This is a ridiculous claim for two reasons.

First, “losing” is not the same thing as “choosing.” While the headlines blare that 22 million will “lose coverage,” the fine print of the CBO report tells a different story: “CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 15 million more people would be uninsured under this legislation than under current law — primarily because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated.”

Get that? Without the penalty from the individual mandate, millions would choose not to buy coverage. In that way ObamaCare is much like membership in a labor union. Democrats shout from the rooftops how wonderful it is, but when the people are given a choice, they overwhelmingly reject it.

Second, the CBO has a long and inglorious history of being wrong. Not just a little wrong either, but more off target than a one-eyed, near-sighted drunkard trying to shoot a Coke can off a tree stump from 50-yards with a snub-nosed .38 revolver.

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out in March regarding the CBO’s previous flawed ObamaCare projections, “In February 2013, CBO predicted that ObamaCare enrollment in the individual market would be 13 million in 2015, 24 million in 2016 and 26 million in 2017. The actual enrollment for those years was, respectively, 11 million, 12 million and 10 million. As recently as March 2016, CBO was projecting an enrollment boom of 15 million for this year.” Enrollment in 2016 was just over 10 million.

Less than three years after it went into effect, the CBO’s ObamaCare cost projections doubled, from $900 billion to $1.8 trillion, despite the fact that premiums, deductibles and co-pays were skyrocketing. ObamaCare left tens of millions of Americans without coverage, and tens of millions more with an insurance card saying they had coverage with their doctors no longer willing to take them.

Regardless, the claim that anyone in America will die without insurance is an unmitigated lie. President Ronald Reagan signed The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) into law in 1986, requiring hospitals to treat anyone and everyone who comes into the Emergency Room, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

America has the best health care system in the world. What is a disaster is how we pay for it, and it is a disaster precisely because of government meddling in the market, creating problems, and then devising “solutions” that create more problems than they solve.

The problem is rooted in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision during World War II to institute a wage freeze. Unable to attract top talent with higher wages, businesses looked for other forms of incentives, leading many businesses to pay employees’ health insurance in lieu of higher wages. By the time the war ended, this compensation tool had taken root, and never ended.

This created a market distortion, with the recipient of the service no longer paying for the service, and therefore not seeking lower prices. Compounding the problem is decades of government regulations and mandates that further distorted the market, squeezing doctors and hospitals from both ends.

On the one side, government mandated hundreds of treatments and services included in all policies, then layered on tens of thousands of pages of regulations that health care providers are required to comply with or face financial penalties and even jail time. On the other side, government became the 800-lb gorilla, accounting for half of all health care spending while steadily reducing reimbursement rates for providers, making it extremely difficult just to break even. This is a huge reason why more and more doctors decide to no longer treat Medicare or Medicaid patients.

ObamaCare is a socialist, government-run health care system, and it’s failing as miserably as all such systems do.

The GOP health care bills, though at least trending in the right direction, try too hard to split the baby. The key to successful health care reform is controlling costs, and this is best achieved by reintroducing free market reforms.

Insurance is about spreading and mitigating risk. It is about covering unforeseen and unlikely events. What we have today is a health payment system, not a health insurance system. Forcing health insurers to cover anything and everything means it is no longer insurance. It would be like requiring auto insurers to cover not just collisions, but oil changes, new tires, wiper blades, and basic maintenance and repairs, and expecting rates not to skyrocket.

While the GOP offering is far better than ObamaCare, it can’t stop there. Republicans need to push for a true free market in health care, where insurers and providers compete for our business. Only then will we see both a rapid drop in price and a rapid increase in quality of care.

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