Liberals who argue the masses would come to love the health care reform they currently hate.
In the hours after Scott Brown’s victory — despite his campaigning against Obama care — liberal healthcare commentators were urging Congressional Democrats to push on with a healthcare bill that used deep cuts in Medicare and a presidentially-led effort to reduce patent protection for breakthrough medicines to pay for a $60 billion tax break for unions only. Ignoring Brown’s huge upset victory and the fact that half of those who voted for him cited his stance on healthcare reform as the reason they did so, they are now arguing that the election results was not a referendum on health reform because, as one reporter told me, “those living in Massachusetts may already be enjoying the benefits that a universal health care bill could provide.”
The strategy of pushing health care through even though people don’t understand the proposal and are suspicious of its impact and government because of the way it was, uh, crafted, is a product of the dismissive arrogance of such commentators as the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn. He argues that once the benighted masses are forced to live under the new order, they will awake to celebrate the benefits they failed to perceive over the past two years of health care debate.
Cohn claims that reform “will make a huge difference in people’s lives — and, quite likely, the evolution of the American social welfare state. You’ll be sparing financial or physical hardship for thousands of Americans every year, while delivering peace of mind — and safer, higher quality medicine—to literally millions of others. You’ll be saving the American economy and, along the way, helping people to stay healthy.”
To support his thesis that people will like the product even if they don’t understand it and hate how it was made, Cohn holds up Massachusetts as the model for that shining health clinic on the hill and claims massive support for the reforms in that state. He cites a September 2009 Boston Globe/Harvard School of Public Health poll, where 58 percent of respondents said they supported the state reforms while 28 percent said they opposed.
Cohn failed to note that in the same poll, most said they
didn’t think the law has had much of a direct impact on their
lives. There are two reasons for that. First, before the
Massachusetts law was passed 90 percent of people in the state
had healthcare coverage. Second, unlike the congressional
proposals, no one was forced to give up their healthcare coverage
because of a state mandate.
Cohn also ignores another poll result: 43 percent said the state could not afford to keep the law as it is today and 40 percent said it could.
People have a reason to be concerned. Much like the congressional proposal 60 percent of the people covered under MassHealth were Medicaid eligible. Further, the state received additional federal money to cover the cost of subsidizing the cost of low-income people. As with the bills in Congress, the initial cost of the entitlement was hidden.
Further, the cost estimates of the proponents were wildly off. In 2006, MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber predicted that the amount of money in the “free care pool” would be sufficient to pay for reform legislation without requiring additional funding or taxes. He was way wrong. By 2008 even after the federal government kicked in $1.5 billion the health care costs in the state were rising at an annual rate of 10 percent, and the state budget deficit was $1.3 billion in large part because of the added entitlement. Incidentally, Gruber is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Obama administration to make similar assurances about the federal health plan.
However, expanding coverage did not translate into increased access. Medicaid reimbursements are half of those in the private sector. Major nonprofit hospitals are shutting down across the state and primary care docs are not taking Medicaid patients because of the lousy reimbursement. According to the Boston Globe, “The wait to see primary care doctors in Massachusetts has grown to as long as 100 days, while the number of practices accepting new patients has dipped in the past four years, with care the scarcest in some rural areas.”
Yet here is the lesson Cohn says Democrats should learn from Scott Brown’s successful run: “…deliberating over health care reform is messy, unattractive, and unpopular. But health care reform itself is popular once the deliberations are finished.” Right. And Curt Schilling is an Yankee fan.
Americans want affordable, understandable health care reform. To respond to that demand, legislators should stop listening to “experts” who shaped the health care bill and excuse the deals needed to ram it through.
The Massachusetts election was the liberals’ Waterloo. If they listen to Cohn, government-run health care will become the liberals’ domestic Vietnam.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online