Health Care

False Health Care Choices Prevent Real Reform

Keep it directly between the consumer and the provider, not the government and the myriad number of middlemen.

Arnold Ahlert · Jul. 31, 2017

“Even when Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, liberalism remains the default ideology of the federal government.” —Washington Examiner columnist W. James Antle III

Nothing proves Antle’s assertion better than the GOP’s futile and apparently final attempt to pass “skinny” ObamaCare repeal. Unsurprisingly, reliably liberal Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were joined by “maverick” John McCain of Arizona and every Senate Democrat in a 49-51 defeat of the measure. “I regret that our efforts were simply not enough, this time,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, following the debacle. “This is clearly a disappointing moment. It’s time to move on.”

What remains infuriatingly elusive to McConnell and his equally myopic colleagues is that it was always time to move on. Instead, America endured a frustrating exercise whereby the party that ostensibly espouses limited-government, free-market principles was determined to replace a Democrat, government-run health care plan … with a Republican, government-run health care plan.

It’s time for some clear thinking. And no one illuminates the “false dichotomy between doing nothing and passing a fake repeal that accelerates the death spiral without creating an alternative to the insurance cartel” better than Conservative Review’s David Horowitz. Like progressives, Horowitz embraces the idea of “single-payer” health care. Unlike progressives, Horowitz envisions a transaction directly between the consumer and the provider, not the government and the myriad number of middlemen that are the primary drivers of health care’s skyrocketing costs.

“Rather than trying to fix the insurance cartel, it’s time to leave them in the dust and reduce the price of health care itself,” he declares. “It’s time to get the government out of any third- or fourth-party payer scheme and to stop manipulating statutes, subsidies, and the tax code in order to line the pockets of third-party payers.”

OpenSecrets.org provides tremendous insight regarding why members of both political parties have focused primarily on lining the pockets of those third-party payers. It’s because senators and House members were getting their pockets lined in return during the 2016 election cycle. On the Senate side, the top three recipients of insurance company campaign contributions were Republican, including Ohio’s Rob Portman, whose vote in favor of ObamaCare repeal in 2015 — when it faced a certain veto — became a “no” vote last week when it really mattered. On the House side, the four top recipients were also Republican, led by “mercurial” House Speaker Paul Ryan, who garnered $666,849.

This dynamic reveals why Americans have endured the default ideologies and false dichotomies both parties contemptibly pitch as “reform.” ObamaCare was built on a foundation of lies and foisted on a “stupid” American public. The GOP “repeal and replace” effort?

Titanic deck chair rearranging.

Horowitz cuts through the bipartisan obfuscation with some essential guideposts. The first one is apparently as elusive as it is obvious: Medical insurance is not health care. Thus the cost problems of health care itself must be solved before the cost of insurance is determined.

When poverty necessitates government involvement? “The best way to offer a hand out is to give a direct handout — to empower the poor consumers to pay their bills directly rather than creating a market-distorting government program or lining the pockets of the venture socialist insurance cartel to administer a convoluted third-party program,” he explains.

For the rest of America, currently enduring the increasingly catastrophic permutations of ObamaCare’s death spiral, we begin with price transparency. A system where “all health care providers, from hospitals and surgery centers to doctor’s offices, medical labs, and pharmacies, post their prices online,” Horowitz states.

The far more critical component? Once again, sending the bill directly to the consumer, not the insurance company. “Consumers would then be able to decide whether they want to submit the claim or negotiate with the insurer to cover a certain percentage, just like they do with auto insurance claims,” he explains. “Except now they would be negotiating from a position of strength, because they are not flying blind without prices. Watch the dominos of government-run health care fall and the heads of big-insurance lobbyists explode.”

One additional component is equally critical. No provider should be allowed to “charge a different rate for each patient,” explains former hospital president Steven Weissman.

Another cartel-busting idea that already exists should be expanded. A section of the “Affordable” Care Act “allows ministries to get together and form non-profit health-sharing organizations that are exempt from Obamacare’s regulations and subsidies and immune to the crony capitalist greed inherent in the insurance cartel,” Horowitz reveals. Non-religious organizations should be able to form similar sharing organizations and receive “the same tax benefits through the individual and employer tax scheme as the insurance cartel has enjoyed for 60 years,” he adds.

On to the proverbial elephants in the room. The cost reductions arising from making a private sector approach the root of health care reform would make Medicare and Medicaid reform far simpler to accomplish.

In fact, Medicaid could be eliminated. “Instead, we can directly pay most of the bills of the indigent and chronically ill without a government insurance program,” Horowitz writes. For those who can’t even afford reduced rates, “regulated escrow accounts” that directly pay medical bills, much like food stamps pay directly for food, could be created.

Such a system would not only eliminate the middleman but fraud as well — fraud that ranges somewhere between $68 billion and $230 billion every year, according to the National Healthcare Anti-Fraud Association.

Conservative Review offers an additional list of 20 other ideas that would radically reduce health care costs. They include ending the malpractice boondoggle, making more drugs available without prescriptions, and breaking up the AMA monopoly on medical school accreditation and physician licensing that fuels the nation’s doctor shortage, to name a few.

What about leftist reverence for a government-run, single-pay system? In California, where progressive Democrats have a political monopoly, a single-pay system was proposed — and quickly shelved. That’s because state legislators estimated it would cost $400 billion per year.

California’s entire annual state budget is currently $125 billion.

The best first step for fixing health care? “Nothing would better focus Congress’ attention on changing ObamaCare than being trapped in it just like other Americans,” writes columnist John Fund, who adds that President Donald Trump could engender just that with “a mere stroke of his pen.”

Last Friday, 11-month-old Charlie Gard died. While critical of the way his case was handled, Oxford University ethics expert Prof. Julian Savulescu nonetheless illuminated what government-run health care is really all about: “The state should not have to pay for expensive experimental treatment with low prospect of success.”

And while he noted Charlie’s parents raised funds for his treatment, it ultimately didn’t matter. Abetted by the courts, the British government-run health care system decided the interests of Charlie’s parents were secondary to those of the state and its preference that Charlie “die with dignity.”

Why should Americans endure a system that empowers insurance cartels and government bureaucrats when they can have one that empowers patients and health care providers? If anything should die — with or without dignity — let it be the “default ideology” of false health care choices.

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