Critical Condition

Obama the Anti-Reformer

Robert Samuelson has a terrific column in the Washington Post today, unmasking Obama as the anti-reformer when it comes to health care. Under the guise of regulating insurance companies, the president is prepared to force a bill on the American people that will make almost all of our current health-care woes worse. Samuelson writes:

[Obama is] telling people what they want to hear, not what they need to know. Whatever their sins, insurers are mainly intermediaries; they pass along the costs of the delivery system. In 2009, the largest 14 insurers had profits of roughly $9 billion; that approached 0.4 percent of total health spending of $2.472 trillion. This hardly explains high health costs. What people need to know is that Obama’s plan evades health care’s major problems and would worsen the budget outlook. It’s a big new spending program when government hasn’t paid for the spending programs it already has.

“If not now, when? If not us, who?” Obama asks. The answer is: It’s not now, and it’s not “us.” Pass or not, Obama’s proposal is the illusion of “reform,” not the real thing.

One of the forgotten arguments from 2008 was Obama and McCain’s argument over health-care reform. McCain’s lost the argument because Obama pilloried McCain’s tax-credit plan as a “tax” on health insurance for the first time. But McCain’s plan would have empowered millions of families to own their own health insurance and helped hold down costs by encouraging people to shop for affordable health-insurance options in a widely competitive interstate market. McCain would’ve ended the illusion that employer-provided insurance is just a free lunch.

Obama campaigned, essentially, by arguing that he would just extend the status quo to the uninsured. He essentially ruled out the single best idea for improving health care — ending the employer tax exclusion for health insurance — because unions hate the idea. Later, he gutted the second best idea — taxing high-cost “Cadillac plans” in the Senate bill – after the unions protested yet again. 

Now, Democrat’s reforms would offer expensive insurance coverage to millions more Americans — but health care would remain expensive, hyper-regulated, and bureaucratic. Government will add a new middle-class health-care entitlement on top of the others (Medicare and Medicaid) we can’t afford now. Call it what you will, but it ain’t reform.

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