An American University student has launched a website where people can sign up to have their ashes mailed to a Republican member of Congress as a way to protest the Republicans’ health-care bill.
MailmetotheGOP.com, which was created by AU junior Zoey Jordan Salisbury last week, contains a simple “Send my ashes to the GOP” form with six questions: “First Name,” “Last Name,” “Email,” “Zip/Postal Code,” “Congressperson(s) to be mailed to,” and, finally, “Why will you die because of the Republican health care bill?”
“Will you die because of AHCA?” the homepage asks. “Let them know.”
According to an article in the Washington Post, the website already had hundreds of submissions as of Saturday. And although it isn’t clear how many of these people are actually intending to go through with sending their ashes to Republicans, Salisbury told the Post that she would be talking with estate planners and helping people who do want to go through with it to write their wills.
Now, I am certainly no fan of the Republicans’ health-care bill in its current form. After all, one reason that medical care has become so expensive is that it’s a market that’s almost entirely controlled by the government and big insurance companies, and this bill keeps it that way. What’s more, it could easily make some of the problems that have occurred under Obamacare even worse. For example: One reason that premiums have been rising under Obamacare is that the individual mandate has not done its job of convincing a large enough number of people to sign up. And the Republicans’ replacement for the mandate — allowing insurance companies to charge the people who have been out of the market more money if and when they do decide to re-enter it — is hardly going to solve this problem. It’s not rocket science: If you’re trying to convince people who have been out of the market to get into the market, charging those people more is not exactly the best way to convince them to do so.
But all legislation technicalities aside, the larger and more important point when it comes to people like Salisbury is that knee-jerk alarmist tactics against entitlement reform scare us away from finding the best solutions to problems — because it completely eliminates consideration of the solutions that come from the free market.
The idea that the only way people can get the things that they need is through the government is a false one.
As Ira Stoll explains in a article for Reason, the OMG-we’re-all-gonna-die attitude that we’re hearing from opponents of Obamacare repeal sounds a lot like the “warnings . . . against throwing poor mothers and children off welfare and into the streets” that we were hearing from opponents of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform in 1996. But what actually wound up happening? As Stoll notes, it was far from the gruesome carnage that the alarmists had predicted. Some of the welfare recipients started working, others turned to charities to receive the services that they had been receiving from the government, and “infant mortality, crime, and domestic violence all declined” — leading Stoll to conclude that “some mix of government and market-based solutions will no doubt similarly rise to meet the needs of those who had been receiving health insurance coverage via the Obamacare exchanges or Medicaid expansion.”
“In both cases, the flawed assumption is that once a federal program is ended, the people who were benefiting from it will be unable to come up with another way to meet their unfilled needs,” Stoll writes.
She’s exactly right. Medical care is incredibly expensive, and one of the main reasons why is because there is no competition. (Note: Although there has been discussion of a future version of the bill allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines, the current version does not contain this.) The best way to decrease the cost of medical care — actual medical care, which, by the way, is very different from medical insurance, although too many people have been speaking about the two as if they’re the same thing — is to allow people more choices, and to force providers to compete to offer the best care at the lowest prices.
Yes — health care is obviously an emotional issue, and it does lend itself to emotional arguments. But the truth is, if you really do care about people and their health, then you should avoid using apocalyptic alarmism to stonewall discussions of alternative ways to help them. The idea that the only way people can get the things that they need is through the government is a false one, and perpetuating it does nothing but prevent the kinds of conversations we need to have in order to find the best solutions for all of us.