Robert Samuelson points out, As Massachusetts health ‘reform’ goes, so could go Obamacare
If you want a preview of President Obama’s health-care “reform,” take a look at Massachusetts. In 2006, it enacted a “reform” that became a model for Obama. What’s happened since isn’t encouraging. The state did the easy part: expanding state-subsidized insurance coverage. It evaded the hard part: controlling costs and ensuring that spending improves people’s health. Unfortunately, Obama has done the same.
How about the insurance companies?
Attacking unpopular insurance companies is easy — and ultimately ineffectual. The trouble is that they’re mostly middlemen. They collect premiums and pay providers: doctors, hospitals, clinics. Limiting premiums without controlling the costs of providers will ultimately cause insurer bankruptcies, which would then threaten providers because they won’t be fully reimbursed. The state might regulate hospitals’ and doctors’ fees directly; but in the past, providers have often offset lower rates by performing more tests and procedures.
Read the whole article: Samuelso predicts,
Even if its modest measures to restrain costs succeed — which seems unlikely — the effect on overall spending would be slight. The system’s fundamental incentives won’t change. The lesson from Massachusetts is that genuine cost control is avoided because it’s so politically difficult. It means curbing the incomes of doctors, hospitals and other providers. They object. To encourage “accountable care organizations” would limit consumer choice of doctors and hospitals. That’s unpopular. Spending restrictions, whether imposed by regulation or “global payments,” raise the specter of essential care denied. Also unpopular.
Obama dodged the tough issues in favor of grandstanding. Imitating Patrick, he’s already denouncing insurers’ rates, as if that would solve the spending problem. What’s occurring in Massachusetts is the plausible future: Unchecked health spending shapes government priorities and inflates budget deficits and taxes, with small health gains. And they call this “reform”?
One could argue that the “reform” pertains to the powers the administration claims to derive from the Constitution:
As of last Friday, the NY Times, that arm of the vast right wing conspiracy, reported (emphasis added),
Changing Stance, Administration Now Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax
When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”
And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.
Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.
Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.
In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.
Add that one to the “Oh look Obama changed his mind” category.
On the issue of Obamacare, Jennifer Rubin points out,
More than the specific maladies of ObamaCare (which are many), this is the core problem with Obama’s great legislative “accomplishment”: it assumes that a centralized bureaucracy can do a better job of containing costs and maintaining quality care than the hundreds of millions of citizens making daily decisions with their doctors. With each revelation — for example, that choice in doctors will be severely restricted – the public gets an inkling that the one-size-fits-all federalized health-care system is going to be every bit as expensive and every bit as objectionable as the nationalized health-care systems that have been tried out in other Western democracies.
All of this is a fine argument for government to do less, not more. Much less.
Indeed, it is.
But back to the Constitution, make sure to read Maynard’s excellent post at Tammy Bruce’s blog, Obamacare and Unlimited Federal Power,
One of the tragic aspects of modern America is how few of our citizens understand that the powers of the Federal government are limited and defined by the Constitution. Most people shrug and figure the government can do whatever it wants. Our ignorance becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whenever the government illegally usurps power and we let them get away with it, another bad precedent has been set. It becomes legally okay for them to do it again in the future because they did it in the past.
No matter how you cut it, we’ll be paying for it.