Guest Column (10/1/09)

A closer look at government health care

Oct. 1, 2009

By Patrice Maloney

I hope people reading last week’s guest column, “Recognizing a health care victory,” take a critical look at the many false and erroneous statements offered up by its author, Judy Bevans, chairwoman of the Vermont Democratic Party. It’s always a favorite technique of liberals to get “personal” and use emotional rhetoric to move their agenda.

Bevans does not tell us where her stats come from when she tells us 72 percent of us want reform and are being shouted out by the 28 percent frightened by it. It’s true that many of us want reform, but 72 percent of us do not want what the government is proposing, as indicated by most consistently reliable and nonpartisan pollsters, such as a poll by Rasmussen online at www.rasmussenreports.com; the results show that 41 percent of voters support President Barack Obama’s health care plan.

Among the “compromises” conservatives are proposing are the following:

1. Interstate portability of insurance products to replace the “community rating” scheme introduced here in Vermont during the 1980s, which was directly responsible for the gradual elimination of competing insurance companies’ ability to offer product choices based on individual lifestyles. The lack of competition within the remaining small cartel of insurance companies (with large lobbying budgets) always results in higher prices. In the few states where insurance companies are free to compete with personalized product offerings, citizens are paying much lower prices.

2. Limits on medical liability (tort reform), which contributes significantly to higher costs through excessive or unnecessary medical procedures prescribed defensively to limit liability exposure. Much more can be done in this area to root out the frivolous and predatory lawsuits without compromising the ability to obtain justice in real medical malpractice cases, but then trial lawyers’ contributions to the Democrat Party would dry up with such action. Lawyers could also do much more to police their own “ambulance chasers” and game riggers.

A Democratic “victory” in any government program further inserting themselves in the health care delivery system will be another major defeat for Americans’ Constitutional liberties and intrusion into personal life decisions and responsibilities — not to mention a continued assault on our pocketbooks.

Instead of “essential to any civilized society caring for its elders,” Social Security and Medicare are primary examples of ineptitude and corruption, as insolvency looms for both programs, as well as Medicaid, the Post Office and education, just as it did for Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac. In every case, increased government involvement results in higher costs and lower quality. Why would anyone trust government with health care?

A thorough reading of H.R.3200 finds numerous provisions on elder care and rationing by committees of bureaucrats. But none of our representatives will respond to those questions, instead flinging accusations of lying and distortion. As more and more people read the bill, poll trends continue to show that they understand its true implications. That is why Democrats are in such a rush to ram it through Congress: So you don’t have a chance to know what they’re voting on. What’s the rush if it doesn’t go into effect until 2013? And if it’s so good for us, why do our elected representatives exclude themselves from the plan?

Yes, health insurance is expensive, but at least you can opt out and still have direct access to care and control of medical decisions. You would no longer have that choice with the government plan. Anyone who thinks you will have cheaper, more accessible and equal or better quality health care with government calling the shots ignores history at our peril. Those quoting superior outcomes in other countries with government health care are not using comparable data and are not paying attention to those countries’ own reports.

Name one government program that has either “fixed” the problem for which it was created or saved money. For all the talk about transparency and providing choice and competition, you will soon find out what it means to compete with an entity that has unlimited access to public money. As we see already with Obama’s behind-closed-door-deals with pharmaceutical corporations and unions, patients’ and taxpayers’ rights will be the first casualties.

No one can explain this so called “right” to health care. It is a service that must be provided by someone. If you do not earn or pay for that service yourself, then you do not have direct control over what kind of service you receive, and are abdicating a personal responsibility and imposing on other’s rights to their property and fruit of their own labor. Emotional appeals that “no one should go bankrupt because of an accident or illness” miss the essential point of the Constitutional protections. People lose their jobs and go bankrupt for many reasons. Everyone faces issues of health or disability at some point in their life. That’s life! There is nothing compassionate about taking someone else’s property to give to a third party to decide who does or does not deserve medical treatment.

We have and can continue to have well-managed and high quality hospitals funded solely by the charity of individual philanthropists and private associations. That is community organizing. That is compassionate civilized society. Successful research does not depend on taxpayers’ dollars and its accompanying politicization of the distribution of grant monies. The focus is on the individual patient by caring individuals who put their money where their mouth and heart is. Never have the words and the actions of our elected representatives been more at odds.

Patrice Maloney is a Williston resident.