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Friday, March 24, 2017
Why do Conservatives Support Socialized Medicine?
This week on the radio Sean Hannity was talking about the "importance of free markets," at the same time mentioning that Donald Trump would have to "negotiate with pharmaceutical companies" and other interests. This was in regard to the Republicans in Congress working out their repeal of ObamaCare and imposing their own intrusions into medical care.
But the truth is, when you have a particular scheme being imposed on the people by Congress and the president, with various arrangements designed by Congressional central planners, and with a U.S. president having to "negotiate with pharmaceutical companies," that is not an example of "free markets."
The supposedly conservative Hugh Hewitt on his radio show continues to support the government maintaining its power to force private insurers to have to provide policies to people with "preexisting conditions" and policies in which they must allow "children" up to age 26 to stay on their parents' insurance plans.
This is "free market"? This is "conservative"?"
Sorry, those views are not free-market views, nor are they "conservative." Apart from having some adherence to fiscal conservatism and private property rights, conservative used to mean the advocating of personal responsibility.
But just how is forcing insurers to include the adult children (age 18-26) of their consumers in their consumers' insurance policies "responsible"? Whatever happened to property rights? What if an insurer doesn't want to provide such policies?
And what if an insurer doesn't want to take the extra risks involved in providing policies to someone with preexisting conditions?
Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute commented on how the preexisting conditions requirement for insurers is the more hazardous centerpiece of ObamaCare, not the individual mandate:
If the sickest patients can hop from plan to plan knowing that insurers could charge them no more than anyone else, then each year many will choose whichever plan offers the most attractive coverage for their ailments. Whichever insurer provided the most attractive coverage to the sick would end up with lots of enrollees who pay far less in premiums than they generate in claims. That's not sustainable. To keep from going out of business, insurers would start competing to not offer the best coverage to the sick. Year after year, sick people would find their coverage getting progressively worse, not better. Just like under ObamaCare.
Given how negative consequences seem to occur when bureaucrats dictate to private businesses, when we're dealing with health care those unintended consequences will obviously have more serious, perhaps deadly results.
Another jaw-dropper occurred on Sunday on Bloomberg Radio's rebroadcast of ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," who was interviewing the allegedly conservative Christopher Ruddy, publisher of the allegedly conservative Newsmax.
Stephanopoulos asked about something Ruddy had written that week. Ruddy wrote: "Donald Trump staked out a high moral ground by calling for a feasible system of universal health care to replace ObamaCare. He shouldn't retreat from that no matter how much the establishment GOP dislikes it."
Huh? "Universal health care?" Ruddy states that he shares Donald Trump's vision (blurred as it is) that all Americans should have access to health care. But all Americans already had access to health care prior to ObamaCare. I think what he's saying is that the government should be empowered to make that happen.
Prior to ObamaCare, did the people have as much access to affordable health care?
Actually, more Americans had access to affordable health care prior to Medicare and Medicaid than after, it seems to me. In his book Making Economic Sense, economist Murray Rothbard noted that government interventions in medical care, including government-mandated licensure, has resulted in raised prices.
Prior to Medicare and Medicaid, a much larger proportion of doctors and hospitals were financially able to treat patients for free. LBJ's "Great Society," which expanded under Republican President Richard Nixon, made such philanthropy by doctors difficult.
And the suggestions offered by Christopher Ruddy include a lot of Medicaid deck-chair rearranging, as with other socialist Republicans, who don't understand that more Americans were better off with medical care prior to these illicit intrusions of the government.
These Republicans and conservatives in Congress seem to be addicted to central planning. They seem obsessed with maintaining government controls and government operations of various medical and insurance schemes, despite their resulting distortions and dysfunctions.
Well, Congress can pass the RyanCare revision of ObamaCare and Trump can sign it into law. And history can tell us what will probably happen: employers dropping workers' health care, Americans losing insurance plans, more bureaucrats confused about what should be enforced and what's been repealed, more doctors' offices and hospitals going bananas by government diktat.
The government changes the rules of the game and makes the people have to change their lives around the bureaucrats' changes, and it's frustrating!
Yes, socialism is frustrating.
But this is the road to total government control of the people's private medical matters. Not good.
The socialized medicine that conservatives support has been an easily predictable failure, and more of it will be a nightmare, whether it's Medicare or Medicaid expansion, ObamaCare, RyanCare, TrumpCare, and all the rest.
We really need to dump socialized medicine into the dustbin of history, once and for all.
Allowing for free markets in health care means letting doctors, insurers, medical patients, consumers enter into whatever contracts or relationships or associations they want among themselves, as long as there is no fraud or theft.
Leave government bureaucrats and their enforcers out of the picture entirely.
If people are concerned that low-income Americans can't obtain treatment for their illnesses, when there's freedom (like there used to be), they will be treated by doctors and hospitals that will once again be able to afford to treat them, because the bureaucracy, the mandates and requirements, the regulations, and the tax-thefts will be gone.
And when there's freedom consumers will be the ones who will be in control -- as the medical providers and insurers compete for those health care consumers. In such an environment, prices come down.
Sadly, conservatives who say they are against socialism, redistribution-of-wealth schemes, and central planning seem to be suffering from great cognitive dissonance in their continued support of socialism and central planning in health care.
At the very least, just repeal ObamaCare, root and branch, and don't replace it. Let doctors, hospitals, insurers and consumers make their own adjustments. Bureaucrats, stay away!
Scott Lazarowitz is a social and cultural conservative who follows a libertarian political and economic philosophy. Please visit his blog.