Repeal! Reform! Let the market offer heterogeneous solutions for heterogeneous consumers! We are the new Republicans and we know that we’re on probation!
Well, apparently not. Having only begun the lame-duck session — and well before the seating of the new Congress that heard the voice of the people — Eric Cantor, soon to be the House majority leader, has already caved on an essential element of eliminating central planning in health care. According to the Hill, Cantor said yesterday that “we want to keep the preexisting condition clause” as well as the provision allowing “children” as old as 26 to remain on their parents’ coverage policies.
Can it be that Cantor does not understand that elimination of the mandate to purchase insurance, combined with the preexisting condition clause and price controls on health coverage, will lead quickly to a collapse of the private insurance market and, accordingly, to a single-payer system? After all, if people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage, and if actuarially fair pricing is verboten, then why would anyone buy health coverage before they needed expensive care? And will all 26-year-olds remain on their parents’ policies? Or only those with expensive medical conditions? Has Cantor never heard of adverse selection in insurance markets?
Cantor’s response to a question from an individual with a chronic health condition bespeaks a lack of both seriousness and the courage to speak truths to sympathetic supplicants in pursuit of government favors. Apparently, he was unprepared for a question that obviously was going to emerge sooner rather than later, after almost two years of national debate about the perversities of central planning in health insurance.
What’s next? Jerry Lewis as chairman of Appropriations? Lisa Murkowski for Energy and Commerce? Cluelessness and lack of principle: at least Nancy Pelosi represented truth in advertising.
— Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.