Obamacare, in other words, takes each of the three parts of our deeply troubled health-care-financing system and makes every one of them worse, by making them less market-oriented, less efficient, and less innovative. To defend such a destructive idea by insisting that it bears some similarities to some things states have done to try to contend with the effects of the existing system is preposterous.
So what, then, should Governor Romney say, if he is the nominee and President Obama suggests that his health-care plan is modeled on the one the Republican enacted? Something, we suggest, like the following:
“Nice try. Your health-care plan, Mr. President, spends a trillion dollars on yet another uncontrollable federal entitlement program and on a massive expansion of a failing Medicaid system. It has an unconstitutional rationing board cut hundreds of billions from Medicare without being answerable to the public, without giving seniors more options, and without using the money to shore up the program or reduce the deficit. It raises hundreds of billions in taxes on employment, investment, and medical research; and after all of that, it wouldn’t even reduce the growth of health-care costs, which is the heart of the problem. And your defense of all that is that it was based on a state program that doesn’t actually do any of those things?
“All around the country, states have been trying to deal with the problems that bad federal health-care policies have created. The federal government is running Medicare in a way that makes efficiency and innovation much more difficult. Medicaid is causing budget crises in state after state while failing to deliver quality health care. Federal tax policy puts employers rather than patients in charge of insurance. States can try to salvage what they can in this system. But ultimately they need — we all need — to end the federal government’s arbitrary and senseless interference in health care.
“Instead your law increases federal control. It spends money we don’t have, takes choices and access to care away from seniors, raises taxes, and forces middle-class families to give up the coverage they have. Like so much of what your administration has done, it makes the problem worse. That’s why the first step toward a better health-care market — one that’s affordable, innovative, and in keeping with our founding principles of limited government — is to repeal your health-care legislation.
“And that’s going to take a new president.”
– Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor of National Review. This article appears in the February 6, 2012, issue of National Review.