JOHN C. GOODMAN
The Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday on the Affordable Care Act was a stunning disappointment.
As a result, Americans will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. People will not go to jail for refusing to pay the fine, but the IRA will withhold their tax refunds.
Did we ever need the mandate at all? The answer is no, not if we do health-care reform the right way. Congress should proceed with repealing the ACA, but replace it with universal health-care coverage without any mandates. Ironically, candidate Barack Obama opposed the individual mandate but supported universal coverage. Unfortunately, he abandoned both ideas.
By following the McCain/Coburn/Ryan approach, Congress can implement universal coverage. Offer every American a refundable tax credit that is the same amount regardless of where the insurance is purchased: in the workplace, in a health exchange, or in the marketplace. For instance, we can afford to offer a $2,500-per-adult tax credit, or an $8,000 credit per family. The unclaimed tax credits go to fund the so-called safety-net programs so that there is an adequate amount of money for everybody.
— John C. Goodman is president of the National Center for Policy Analysis and author of Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.
Leaving aside the arguments that will continue about the SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare, one response of those who favor free markets and limited government must be for them to start preparing themselves for what will eventually happen, regardless of the results of the 2012 presidential election. And that’s Obamacare’s eventual economic demise. The economic track record of socialized medicine is very clear. Sooner or later, it implodes. Britain’s National Health Service is a perfect example. Even Sweden has realized that socialized medicine (and generous welfare states more generally) are unaffordable in the long term, and it has begun allowing private providers into its health-care market. In short, Obamacare’s essential economic unfeasability and extensive bureaucratization of health care (not to mention its disproportionately negative impact on the poor) will become all too clear in time. When that happens, conservatives must have off-the-shelf plans ready to go in order to restore sanity to the asylum of socialized medicine.
However, it’s also plain that conservatives, beyond citing the raw economics of real health-care reform, must ballast their case against socialized medicine with moral and cultural arguments. Far too many conservatives and free marketers critique socialized medicine almost solely in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Economic analyses and arguments are important, but not many people will put everything on the line for a calculus of utility. Instead, critics must draw attention to the ways in which socialized medicine (1) saps personal responsibility, (2) facilitates the spoiled-brat entitlement mentality presently reducing much of Europe to an economic laughingstock, and (not least among such concerns) (3) creates an impossible situation for those of us who on grounds of faith and reason cannot and will not participate in schemes that legally require us to cooperate in other people’s choices for moral evil.
We can win numerous economic arguments. In some respects, that’s actually the easy part. But until we decisively shift — and win — the moral debate, the battle will be uphill all the way.
— Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future.