At present, Washington controls the health care for nearly half — 151.8 million or 46 percent — of the U.S. population. Enrollment in government health insurance programs are as follows: 81 million in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; 61.2 million on Medicare; and 9.6 million on Tricare. Recall that Medicaid was intended expressly and solely for the “aged, blind and disabled.”
Half is not enough for progressives; they want to practice medicine on all Americans.
The assertion that beltway politicians and bureaucrats practice medicine (without a license) on you is no exaggeration. Ask any provider of medical care. Washington “guidelines” tell physicians what medications they can and cannot prescribe, where and when procedures can be done or denied, obstruct communication between providers, and delay vitally needed care until it is literally too late. Politicians issue official advisories and then absolve themselves, proclaiming they merely made some suggestions. Meanwhile, insurance executives, hospital administrators, and licensing agencies act as agents of the government, imposing federal “suggestions” like commandments.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), particularly with Medicaid expansion, achieved control of half of U.S. healthcare (see numbers above). This was a brute force act imposed on the American people against their will. It was the only major social welfare program ever passed without a single minority party vote, designed in smoke-filled backrooms, played out with the arm-twisting and chicanery worthy of its namesake Chicago political enforcer, and dependent on “Americans’ ignorance,” according to ACA architect and discredited healthcare consultant, Jonathan Gruber.
The ACA achieved the progressive goal of increasing federal control of healthcare, even though it doubled the cost of already unaffordable health insurance and worse, reduced access to medical care. For a while, Democrats even thought they could sell a narrative of “building on the success of the ACA” with their Medicare-for-all plan, H.R. 1384.
Medicare-for-all was an unsubtle attempt to play on the touted popularity of the Medicare program. Analyses showed that Medicare-for-all would cost as much as $40 trillion (23 times the cost of the ACA) and would further reduce access to a doctor, much less one of your choice. Democrats stopped pushing this blatant power grab disguised as a new, wonderful, and free entitlement.
The name Medicare is thought to hold some iconic status even though the program will run out of money by 2026 according to its own trustees. So, Democrats sent up a trial balloon suggesting that people under age 65, the unemployed, and even illegals might “buy in” to Medicare.
Americans understand supply and demand even if Democrats do not. If you add millions of new enrollees demanding care while there is a limited and insufficient supply of dollars and providers, people simply won’t get care. Wait times will be interminable and death-by-queueing will impact all Americans, not just our veterans. With the impending insolvency of Medicare, the folly of a Medicare buy-in plan is obvious.
Overt attempts have failed to complete the progressive takeover of all of healthcare. Refusing to settle for half, Democrats have turned to covert action to expand federal healthcare control.
In common parlance, infrastructure refers to roads, tunnels, bridges, distance communication, and the electric grid. Spearheaded by Senate Budget Committee Chairman and avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, radical Democrats have surreptitiously added new healthcare mandates in their supposedly infrastructure bill.
With overt approaches failing to achieve total federal control of healthcare, Democrats have now turned to stealth. Hence the covert strategy of coupling their healthcare wish list with an infrastructure bill. Their strategy might actually work. Then, Washington will have total control of all of our healthcare.
For a look at what healthcare would be with Washington in total control, check out Dan Putkowski’s novel, Universal Coverage. It was dystopian fiction when he wrote it in 2009 — it may become terrifying fact in the near future.
Deane Waldman, M.D., MBA is professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology, and Decision Science; former director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation; and author of Curing the Cancer in U.S. Healthcare.