Greatest Threat to American Health Care: Beltway Fever
Sept 17th 2009
As Congressional leaders debate omnibus health insurance reform proposals, American consumers face the threat of dramatic changes to health care delivery that 100% misses the point. The entire debate is a quintessential study in “lipstick” on a pig.
The “pig” is the federal government intrusion into health insurance at all. Let me restate, the health care marketplace is so fouled up BECAUSE of government involvement, not because of too little government involvement.
Americans are frustrated and the tea partiers are an expression of this because people see both parties as totally tone deaf, failing to limit the central role of the federal government. So while the statists want to expand the role of government into a total single-payer plan, the rudderless GOP proposes a “market-based” government role in which government empowers people. Huh?
The fact is, there is no more proper Congressional role in health insurance than there is in car, home or life insurance. Insurance regulation is properly handled at the state level. So how did we get here?
The fateful machinations happened in the forties, when price and salary controls put in place by an increasingly socialistic government forced businesses to look for creative ways to attract and compensate their employees. The result, a loophole of sorts where employers could gift their employees with health insurance and deduct the premium as a cost of doing business. Voila! Just like that, the camel’s nose was under the tent and the negative ramification have perplexed patients and policy-makers ever since.
Now you have perverse questions like:
Why should my employer pick my health care?
How come a state imposed health insurance mandate only effects individual and small employer plans and leaves 60% of the market place untouched?
And my favorite: Why on earth should corporations enjoy the deduction while individuals who pay out of pocket are buying insurance with post-tax dollars?
The answer is simple. Get the federal government out of the business of manipulating the marketplace at all. Generations of Congressional leaders of both parties have refused to give up the football. Now is the time.
The point man for the Republicans is Congressman/Dr. Tom Price (R-GA). While he is right on point with some of the major principles for reform he completely misses the point that Americans are screaming “The Federal Government should not be doing these things!” True courage would have a bi-partisan group of Congressional leaders assembled in front of the Capitol, locking arms, and admitting that the government screwed up the market by getting involved and the cleanest fix is to butt out. Americans should demand no less.
With due respect to Dr. Price, it is often hard to see the forest for the trees, no matter how well-educated one is. He has the right ideas, mostly. The virulent beltway fever however has afflicted his thinking along with most of the rest of the GOP. So as a former law-maker I suggest a simple tool whereby Republicans might have a chance of winning back the country. If the Democrats are proposing an expanded federal government role, Republicans should start from a point of eliminating the federal government role. As long as Democrats are promising free lunch and Republicans are offering free bread and water Republicans and our Country will lose.