I found interesting a recent NPR podcast with James Morone, author of The Heart of Power. The interview is framed as a positive discussion on the need for national health care. But without hearing the orgasmic pleasure in their voices over the idea of government control; looking only at sections of the transcript one would swear the interview intended to expose the negative side of the issue.
Morone talks about LBJ instructing a young Ted Kennedy saying:
“The first thing you’ve gotta do, is don’t let them predict those costs. This vibrant, big Lyndon Johnson, he just suppressed the cost figures.”
Tactic number one, just lie and ignore the truth.
“If we would have had accurate projections for Medicare, we never would have never passed the program.”
And this is a statement of victory, not of shame. He continues to say:
“Somehow the debate has become ‘can we afford this?’”
Somehow? Medicare is already going bankrupt, doesn’t that seem relevant? The fact that the program will be so grossly short of funds from day one that rations and a diminished quality of care will be the only result, I think maybe we should talk about the fiscal reality.
“The most important thing is you cant duck healthcare, you’ve gotta feel it in your gut. If you listen to the economists you’ll find you just cant afford it. Every successful president says to the economists ‘I hear you, now get out of my office’”
Don’t think, feel. Don’t listen to reason, live in fantasy land.
“If you look around the world…generally we’ve gotten the system in place first, then rationalized it, then worried about cost. And that’s how the debate aught to proceed”
This is the ideal? Shouldn’t we make a case for the need first, then see if it is feasible, THEN pass the system? Not with liberals. Act first, think later, and then when it is too late and the money isn’t there… inflate the dollar.
Morone goes on to discuss Hillary Clinton’s mistake. “You’ve got to move quickly. The Clinton’s waited a full year.” Forbid it that we should take the time to plan something so important as healthcare. 1000 page pieces of legislation, unread, with 8 hours of debate, rushed through Congress before the people have a say, and signed by the President without the promised waiting period – that’s not a good system.
Let’s talk instead about a Libertarian ideal – a full, thorough debate; a plan that makes economic sense and actually improves quality of care instead of stifles it.
First, remove the tax incentive toward employer provided healthcare. If I choose to buy my own healthcare, I shouldn’t be penalized. Then when I hold my own policy, when I leave my job and need it most, my healthcare comes with me. We need to move back to this as the standard.
Second, remove the restriction on purchasing across state lines. This will increase competition and choice many times over rather than “increasing choice” with one additional solution (Government insurance) that eventually puts all others out of business.
Third, remove coverage mandates. I should be allowed to choose the policy that fits my needs. If I am a healthy individual wanting only emergency coverage I should be allowed to have that. Mandated coverages on drug rehab, abortion, and health issues I have no concern over only drive my costs up.
And finally, something I’ve heard no proposals on how to achieve, but we need to increase consumer participation and cost transparency to introduce market pressures. There is probably also something to say about medical malpractice reform as a means of reducing the cost of healthcare, though the issue is more complicated.