Debra Saunders / Aug. 6, 2009

Hazardous to America’s Health

You know that American voters aren’t feeling the love for ObamaCare when House members hold town-hall meetings in their districts, only to be heckled and booed.

No worries for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. On Tuesday, she ditched the town-hall concept in favor of a friendlier closed-to-the-public “roundtable” with health care professionals and consumers at San Francisco General Hospital.

At a press conference afterward, Pelosi proclaimed that “health care is a right, not a privilege.” The House health care bill, she said, would mean Americans could receive health care with no restrictions on pre-existing medical conditions, more benefits for seniors on Medicare, a yearly cap on co-payments and no cap on what providers pay.

Catherine Howard, 36, was on board. Five years ago, Howard was self-employed, uninsured and afraid that she might get wiped out financially if she was injured snowboarding. So she bought a low-premium, high-deductible insurance plan for $140 per month. “I had no way of knowing at that time what it was going to cost me,” she said.

Then she got breast cancer – and the plan that she thought would cap her co-payments at $7,500 didn’t. The uncovered costs of vital treatment drove Howard close to $100,000 in debt.

While many of those at the roundtable worked in health care, none raised the question asked by CBS5 reporter Hank Plante: How much is all this going to cost?

To which Pelosi responded, “First, let’s talk about the cost of doing nothing” – that is, the anticipated rising tab for health care costs if they continue to grow at current rates.

“We can’t afford not to do this,” Pelosi argued. Only in Washington do people assert with a straight face that they can expand who gets covered and what everyone gets – and it will be cheaper. And because many readers believe this fable, allow me to note that Massachusetts passed a universal plan three years ago, and already cost increases have led to cutbacks.

President Obama has said he’ll pay for a health package by taxing workers who earn $250,000 or more. But there simply aren’t enough rich people to bankroll all the things that Obama and Pelosi have promised, as Stanford economics professor Victor R. Fuchs noted at a Chronicle editorial board meeting Wednesday.

Fuchs has been an Obama supporter, but he would prefer to see Congress wait a year so that Washington can craft a package that would offer a basic health plan to all Americans – paid for with a value-added tax.

That’s the right approach – especially if savvy regulations protect consumers from rapacious plans. Let the government award vouchers for basic coverage, added internist William S. Andereck, and everyone has an incentive to buy health care.

The best part: This approach ends the illusion that if Uncle Sam pays for medical care, it’s free. As I watched Pelosi on Tuesday, I thought: It’s the California Budget Mess all over again – with big promises of more government and more benefits and no across-the-board taxes to pay for the package. Democrats like to congratulate themselves for their noble intentions. But they have offered no plan to pay for them, and so they are bound to fail.


Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.