Schooling Ann Coulter on the individual mandate.
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But the above discussion shows that this is not only wrong, but uninformed and even unreasoned. I have been hyperventilating over government-mandated health insurance for 20 years, ever since I was inspired to kill the Heritage health plan. That was never about a legal objection, but about a policy objection — that the individual mandate inevitably leads to full-blown socialized medicine.
Coulter writes further, “But because both Obamacare and Romneycare concern the same general topic area — health care — and can be nicknamed (politician’s name plus ‘care’), Romney’s health care bill is suddenly perceived as virtually the same thing as the widely detested Obamacare.”
No, Ann, it’s a lot more than that. Where did you get that excessively speculative rationalization? Romney’s health care bill is perceived as virtually the same thing as the widely detested Obamacare because it is virtually the same thing as the widely detested Obamacare.
Both Romneycare and Obamacare include the individual mandate. Both Romneycare and Obamacare include sharp increases in Medicaid. Both Romneycare and Obamacare include guaranteed issue and community rating (like requiring fire insurers to insure homes that have already caught fire, and at the same standard rates as for everyone else). Both Romneycare and Obamacare include welfare subsidies for the purchase of health insurance well into the middle class. And both Romneycare and Obamacare include the latent government power for price controls on health insurance and rationing of health care.
No, Ann, this is not “like saying state school choice plans are ‘the same idea’ as the Department of Education.”
But Coulter continues,
States have been forcing people to do things from the beginning of the of the republic: drilling for the militia, taking blood tests before marriage, paying for public schools, registering property titles and waiting in line for six hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to drive. There’s no obvious constitutional difference between a state forcing militia age males to equip themselves with guns and a state forcing adults in today’s world to equip themselves with health insurance.
That is true but irrelevant. States have the admitted constitutional power under the federal Constitution to adopt an individual mandate if they want to do so.
What is relevant is that there is no important difference between state-run socialized medicine and federally run socialized medicine. Ronald Reagan would have fought against each just as fiercely. That is why, if he were alive today, he would be just as strongly opposed to Romneycare as Obamacare.
But Coulter imparts to us her health care policy insight that the only thing wrong with Romneycare is Democrats: “First, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature set the threshold for receiving a subsidy so that it included people making just below the median income in the United States, a policy known as ‘redistribution of income.’” But as explained above, this policy is the inevitable result of an individual mandate. If the government is going to force people to buy the most expensive health insurance possible, the government is going to come under irresistible pressure to help even middle income people and above pay for that mandate.
Coulter further explains the role of those dastardly Democrats: “Then, liberals destroyed the group rate, ‘no frills’ private insurance plans allowed under Romneycare … by adding dozens of state mandates, including requiring insurers to cover chiropractors and in vitro fertilization — a policy known as ‘pandering to lobbyists.’” But again, as explained above, this was only the natural, predictable, indeed inevitable result of the individual mandate. Once the government has to specify the health insurance plan the mandate requires everyone to buy, no one can be left out in our democratic system.
Coulter explains that all of this is necessary because of the “free rider problem” that results when people decide not to buy insurance, incur health costs, and then don’t pay, shifting those costs to the rest of us. But such uncompensated care for the uninsured is just 2 percent of total health costs, which amounts to a weak excuse, not a justification, for socialized medicine.
The government’s free-rider problem, from failing to pay market rates to doctors and hospitals under Medicare and Medicaid, is estimated to produce twice as much cost shifting to the rest of us. Obamacare makes that much worse by greatly expanding Medicaid and sharply slashing payments to doctors and hospitals under Medicare, which shows that such cost shifting is not remotely what these folks are concerned about.
Romney’s Corruption of the Reagan Coalition
This episode perfectly illustrates the problem with the lifelong liberal Mitt Romney, coming from a liberal heritage going back to his father, now stepping forward to lead Republicans against the Marxist infiltrator Barack Obama. Inevitably, Romney will pull the Republican Party to the left and crack up the Reagan coalition which has dominated the party since 1980.