The Obama administration is assaulting the free enterprise system at so many points that it is hard to keep track of them all. Putting us on the path to socialized medicine, once unthinkable, is now almost a footnote. Still, we shouldn’t let it happen without at least taking note of what a radical and ill-advised change socialized medicine would be. Byron York notes that every Republican on the Senate Finance Committee signed a letter to President Obama, opposing the “public option” in his current health care proposal:
At a time when major government programs like Medicare and Medicaid are already on a path to fiscal insolvency, creating a brand new government program will not only worsen our long term financial outlook but also negatively impact American families who enjoy the private coverage of their choice…
Washington-run programs undermine market-based competition through their ability to impose price controls and shift costs to other purchasers. Forcing free market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition….The end result would be a federal government takeover of our healthcare system, taking decisions out of the hands of doctors and patients and placing them in the hands of a Washington bureaucracy.
I think everyone understands that the public “option” won’t be an option for long; the idea is to drive private health insurance from the marketplace and facilitate a complete federal government takeover. In the health care “reform” proposal that Barack Obama offered during last year’s campaign, there was a provision that would have made it illegal for private insurance carriers to offer policies at a lower cost than the government plan. That shows rather nakedly, I think, the Dems’ intention for privately run health care to wind up in history’s dustbin.
Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy’s staffers have come up with their own plan, the current version of which was leaked over the weekend. Keith Hennessey offers 15 things you need to know about it. The Kennedy bill would require everyone to have a “qualified” health insurance plan, as defined by the federal government. (What do you think they will say if you tell them you don’t want to pay for abortion coverage and you’re too young to need Viagra?) It would then subsidize (from an unspecified source) health insurance costs for poor people–you know, families earning $110,000 a year and less. Maybe if we all subsidize each other, health care will be “free.”