Let’s say you want to expand access to insurance–which I believe is a laudable goal. There are very simple ways to do it, without euthanizing a system that for most people is working very well. You could expand Medicare to permit people to buy in at, say, age 55. That would bring relative healthy people into the program who would be less likely to need expensive services. You could give grants to states, or contract with private companies, to create local health clinics to provide basic care charging fees based on ability to pay. You could open the country as a national market and give vouchers to help people buy their own private insurance, coupled with a mandate to purchase insurance, since many of the uninsured are voluntarily uninsured, preferring to buy flat screen TVs or consumer goods rather than insurance. You would at least take it slowly, do the least necessary to attain the goal of expanded basic care to make sure you didn’t make things worse instead of better.
But that would not allow you to brazenly grab power. So, instead we get a $1.5 billion, 1000 page health care plan, the details of which our representatives may vote for without even having read (as we have seen in other areas of public policy since President Obama was inaugurated). And it will be hard for us to engage in democratic debate because our sickly media won’t even be able to report or keep track on what is in the bill.
But make no mistake, we are on the path toward empowering utilitarian bioethicists, who you and your doctor don’t even know, to decide what treatments you can have and indeed, when you have to die We are on the path to rationing. We are on the path to health care costs being the catch all excuse for the government to control your personal behaviors–at least those without strong political constituencies–under the pretext of keeping costs low.
I repeat, this isn’t a health care plan, it is a power grab. Rather that rushing it throught, we should slow it down. This is too important to get wrong.