Critical Condition

Two Battles Lost, The War Continues

Two weeks ago on November 7, the House voted 220 to 215 in favor of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 1,900-page, trillion-dollar health-care bill.  Tonight, the Senate voted 60 to 39 to commence the health-care debate on Senator Harry Reid’s 2,074-page bill that will end up costing several trillion dollars over 10 years.  Two battles have been lost but the war continues.

The vote in favor of cloture paves the way for the debate to continue after the Thanksgiving recess. President Obama and Democratic leaders hope a bill will be passed by the end of the year and placed on the president’s desk for signature early in 2010.

The final bill will likely have a “public option” — a government-run health-insurance plan; employer and individual mandates; major reductions in Medicare; taxes on insurance, drug, and medical device companies; a tax on insurance companies that offer “Cadillac plans,” and a benefit package with guaranteed issue and community rating that will increase the cost of insurance premiums for all.  Make no mistake: If this bill becomes law, America will be on its way to a government-run, single-payer, “Medicare for All” health-care system.  The ultimate result will be higher taxes for all Americans, significantly higher deficits, rationed health care, and long waiting lists for treatment such as exist in Canada, where government is the sole provider of health care.

If this health-care reform passes, where will the best doctors and where will we as patients go to get our health care?  Currently, Canadians have an escape valve and it is the United States.  About 30,000 Canadians come to the U.S. every year when they want to get prompt treatment and they pay out of pocket for it.  If the Democrats’ bill passes, Americans won’t have an escape valve.

It is now more important than ever that the American people continue apace the town-hall meetings, tea parties, and calls to their elected representatives urging them not to support this massive takeover by government of one-sixth of the American economy. 

The two battles may be lost but the war is just beginning.  We cannot afford to lose this war.

 – Sally C. Pipes is president and ceo of the Pacific Research Institute.  Her latest book is The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide.

Sally C. Pipes is the president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care (Encounter). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.