Critical Condition

Is National Journal Giving Obamacare a Big, Wet Smooch?

Come September, National Journal will host a policy summit titled “Prescription For Growth,” funded by Eli Lilly, that will probe “the potential impact of recently passed health care reform as an economic engine” and ask whether “health care reform [will] serve as a jobs creator and accelerate growth in health-related industries.”

Oy, where to begin?

I suppose I could start with how a news organization that bills itself as “the leading source of nonpartisan reporting” could lend Obamacare a positive gloss by calling it “reform” — a term that even NPR declines to ascribe to actual legislation (for that reason).

Next, there’s this inane question of whether Obamacare will spur job growth in the health-care sector.  With two new health-care entitlements and maybe a trillion dollars of new health spending . . . gosh, d’ya think?

But then there’s the presumption that creating new health-care jobs is a good thing. You’d think it would be. After all, unemployment is near 10 percent. But one of our biggest health-care problems is that there are too many health-care jobs. The Dartmouth Institute’s Elliot Fisher has quipped, “In theory, we could send a third of the U.S. health care workforce to Africa and improve the health of both continents.” Obamacare will just make this country’s health-care sector even more bloated and inefficient.

Wrap your head around all that this summit aims to accomplish. It could give a boost to an unpopular and embattled law by taking one of the law’s biggest liabilities and dressing it up as an asset. It could create a meme that helps turn around President Obama’s low approval rating on the economy — never mind that Obamacare is stifling the right kind of job creation.

Of course, I may have this summit all wrong. It may give all these issues a fair hearing.

Did I mention the summit’s sponsor is one of the biggest special-interest beneficiaries of Obamacare? (Tim Carney, call your office.)

Michael F. Cannon — Mr. Cannon is director of health-policy studies at the Cato Institute and co-author of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.


The Latest