Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

Health-Care Op-Ed Roundup


Several important opinion pieces have been run in the last few days. In Friday’s New York Times, Rep. Paul Ryan rightly calls for the repeal of “the entire faulty architecture” of Obamacare, declaring that our agenda be one of “wholesale repeal” and “real reform.”
  Friday’s Wall Street Journal features a collection of noteworthy short pieces. In one of them, Rep. Mike Pence writes:

In the dead of night on Sunday, Democrats rammed their health-care overhaul through Congress. Some say we made history. I say we broke with history, turning our back on this country’s finest traditions of limited government, personal responsibility, and the consent of the governed….

Liberal Democrats had their say on the third Sunday in March. The American people will have their say on the first Tuesday in November. House Republicans are committed to repealing ObamaCare and starting over with reforms that reflect the desires of the American people.

In another short Journal piece, Massachusetts state treasurer Tim Cahill, a Democrat-turned-independent, writes of the Massachusetts plan to which many have compared Obamacare:

The universal insurance coverage we adopted in 2006 was projected to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. However, since this program was adopted in 2006, our health-care costs have in total exceeded $4 billion. The cost of Massachusetts’ plan has blown a hole in the Commonwealth’s budget. Just last Thursday, Gov. Deval Patrick’s office announced a $294 million shortfall related to health-care costs.

If not for federal Medicaid reimbursements and commitments from Washington to prop up this plan, Massachusetts would be broke. The only reason MassCare has survived is that we have been repeatedly bailed out by the federal government. But that raises the question: Who will bail America out if we implement a similar program?

The Journal also ran the usual mixed-bag piece from Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Governor Jindal wisely joins the in call for repeal, and then real reform. But, along the way, he feels the need to write:

There are parts of the bill the public will like. No doubt about it. There are parts I like — though I have yet to read the fine print — such as allowing parents to keep kids on their policies until they are 26-years-old. And there’s bound to be more good policy in there: 2,409 pages can’t be all bad.

In a nation already suffering from far too much arrested adolescence, why would we want to have the federal government mandate that insurers let little 25-year-old Jimmy and 24-year-old Susan stay on Mommy and Daddy’s insurance policy? Why is an alleged advocate of limited government praising this? 

In any event, if that’s the best thing that Governor Jindal, or others, can find in the 2,000-plus page bill, then it truly is a testament to how awful it is.

And it is awful — and if left unrepealed, it will likely get even worse. As Yuval Levin keenly observes in a piece published yesterday at The Weekly Standard, President Obama and other liberals had to abandon their plan for a government-run “public option” in order to get Obamacare passed — thereby making their legislation (as liberals have noted) essentially a trillion-dollar subsidy to now heavily and onerously regulated “private” insurance companies. Consequently, the plan pleases next to no one and doesn’t offer either the sensible choice-and-competition, price-transparency solutions of the Right, or a fully developed version of the European-style government-monopoly solutions of the Left. Levin writes:

The result is not even a liberal approach to escalating costs but a ticking time bomb: a scheme that will build up pressure in our private insurance system while offering no escape. Rather than reform a system that everyone agrees is unsustainable, it will subsidize that system and compel participation in it — requiring all Americans to pay ever-growing premiums to insurance companies while doing essentially nothing about the underlying causes of those rising costs. . . .

[ObamaCare] is designed to push people into a system that will not exist — a health care bridge to nowhere — and so will cause premiums to rise and encourage significant dislocation and then will initiate a program of subsidies whose only real answer to the mounting costs of coverage will be to pay them with public dollars and so increase them. . . .

The nature of the new law means that it must be undone — not trimmed at the edges. Once implemented fully, it would fairly quickly force a crisis that would require another significant reform. Liberals would seek to use that crisis, or the prospect of it, to move the system toward the approach they wanted in the first place: arguing that the only solution to the rising costs they have created is a public insurer they imagine could outlaw the economics of health care. A look at the fiscal collapse of the Medicare system should rid us of the notion that any such approach would work, but it remains the left’s preferred solution, and it is their only plausible next move….

With all of that in mind, our determined goal for the next three years — as Ryan, Pence, and Levin all note — should be clear: Repeal, and then real reform


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review