There is a good chance the healthcare bill being debated in Washington will be blocked, thanks to opposition by the electorate. However, in the end Obama will win because the debate has been shaped in a fashion the American people cannot win. The odds are that eventual healthcare reform will not contain most of the features in the current bill, but the momentum is there for some type of reform detrimental to the welfare of the nation.
Everyone seems to have accepted the underlying premise of the debate that fixing healthcare is the duty of the federal government. No one is pointing out that the problems with healthcare, like most of the problems with the economy in general, can be laid at the feet of Congress. More than anything else, the unaffordable cost of healthcare today is caused by the distortions in the market created by the fact that government is the single largest purchaser of healthcare.
If we are to make any headway in getting the cost of healthcare under control, we have to begin with a debate as to whether or not healthcare is a proper function of the federal government. The Founders, taking into account the expanse and diversity of America, deliberately limited the functions of the federal government. They understood that attempting to govern citizens in a variety of states covering a large geographical area with differing customs, problems and needs could not be accomplished by a central government without major sacrifice of liberty.
Nowhere in the Constitution do we find any authorization for the Federal Government to be involved in healthcare. Neither do we find any indication in the writings of the Founding Fathers that they would be in favor of government involvement in healthcare if they were alive today.
That is not to say that government has no role in the health of its citizens, just not at the federal level. A good first step in solving America’s healthcare problems would be accepting the intentions of the Founders when they proposed and ratified the tenth amendment. The proper place for public health issues, including medical care for the indigent and the regulation of insurance, if necessary, is at the state and local level.
If we continue to accept the premise of the statists that healthcare is the proper role of the Federal Government it is only a matter of time until we have socialized medicine. Obama and the Democratic Party may not be successful in getting a nationalized health plan this time, but they will be back again. Each time they propose it they get another step closer to succeeding.
Control of the nation’s healthcare has been the goal of left leaning politicians since the administration of the Progressive-Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson and Clinton, each in turn, made an attempt to institute universal coverage. Johnson signed into law the Medicare and Medicaid programs which eventually led to government control of some forty percent of the nation’s healthcare.
The increased demand for healthcare services brought about by these programs led to an inevitable increase in price. That, added to the customary employer provided healthcare plans instituted a couple of decades earlier as a way of getting around wage controls and exorbitant taxation, helped to create an expectation on the part of the public that they should never have to pay for any health care “out of pocket”; someone else should always pick up the bill.
We may accept a bill for hundreds of dollars from our local mechanic for minor repairs on our car without complaint, but panic at the thought of paying for a routine trip to the doctor for treatment of a common cold. Until the expectations of the public changes in this regard and until we get the overall government involvement in the healthcare system out of the hands of Washington and back into the hands of the state and local governments where it belongs, we are going to continue to deal with repeated efforts to socialize medicine.
If we do not change the way we think about the question of healthcare, Obama wins.