May I ask this question? Why is it that Americans don’t have the freedom to choose their own health insurance? I just don’t get it. Why must the liberal nanny state make decisions for us? We can make them ourselves, thank you very much. It’s like choosing a car, buying a home, or investing in a stock. We can handle it.
So why must the government tell me and everyone else what we can and cannot buy?
Charles Krauthammer and the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger noted in excellent recent columns that this whole Obamacare business represents the greatest-ever expansion of the liberal entitlement-state dream. But I don’t want that dream. And you shouldn’t either.
Here’s what else I don’t want: As a 60-something, relatively healthy person, I don’t want lactation and maternity services, abortion services, speech therapy, mammograms, fertility treatments, or Viagra. I don’t want it. So why should I have to tear up my existing health-care plan, and then buy a plan with far more expensive premiums and deductibilities and with services I don’t need or want?
Why? Because Team Obama says I have to. And that’s not much of a reason. It’s not freedom.
Fortunately, NBC News pulled the plug this past week on President Obama’s promise that “if you like your own plan, you can keep it.” Ditto for keeping your own doctor. The plug was pulled because NBC learned that Team Obama knew — for three years — that stiff new regulations would prevent the grandfathering of existing health-care plans. And not just a few plans. But plans that could affect as many as 15 million individuals.
The day after that bombshell hit, the president tried to blame insurance companies — rather than regulatory overkill — for this Obamacare shortfall. Yet both the public and the mainstream media were having none of it. In what may turn out to be a landmark moment, Americans and the media at large have turned against the president and Obamacare.
Incidentally, equally punitive regulations will hit more than 90 million employer-sponsored health plans next year. It’s the same problem as the individual plan. Grandfathering won’t work. Moreover, replacing these plans with much more expensive substitutes is going to constitute a major tax hike on the entire economy. This point shouldn’t be lost as Americans worry about being kicked from their plans. Not only is Obamacare anti-freedom, it’s anti-growth as well.
As for the grandfathering lie, Obama’s HHS staffers were the saboteurs. They undoubtedly acted with full knowledge of what they were doing, and thus trapped the president in three years of falsehoods that were essential to selling Obamacare.
And I just love it when they tell me that so many of these existing plans are substandard “bad apples.” Do the president and his people not know that insurance at the state level is one of the most regulated areas of the economy? They’re blaming insurance companies, not their own new regulations. The stupidity of that his hilarious. Do they really think salesmen are out selling these policies off the back of trucks?
No, this is federal coercion at its worst. And that’s why the public is turning against it. It’s not freedom.
Of course, there are other structural problems to Obamacare that are both unfair and unaffordable. Mainly, younger healthy people are not going to subsidize older sicker folks. We should take care of the latter with transparent government subsidies, and not by trying to redistribute resources (again) from the young to the old.
Or then there’s the Medicaid entitlement. It’s already out of control and close to bankruptcy. But in the early days of Obamacare, Medicaid sign-ups are exploding, all while sign-ups for private plans on the new exchanges are miniscule.
Between the president’s broken promises, the millions of policy cancellations, the continued website breakdowns, and the unaffordable, unfair con game between the healthy young and the sicker old, this Obamacare monster is well on its way to collapsing of its own weight. But here’s the bigger point: All this is the inevitable result of massive central-planning exercises to control the economy. That’s not freedom.
No amount of rescue legislation is going to change this. It’s the elections of 2014 and 2016 that will allow the American people to reject this Soviet-style planning. But I’ll reference my conservative colleagues in the media once again: Obamacare represents the greatest-ever expansion of the liberal entitlement-state dream. And you know what? That dream is crumbling and dissolving before our very eyes.
And that is freedom.
– Larry Kudlow, NRO’s economics editor, is host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and author of the daily web log, Kudlow’s Money Politic$.