Monday, March 22, 2010

How to repeal health care reform

It can be politically difficult to run on the slogan "Repeal health care reform," because many Americans see it as a panacea for anything they don't like about the current system.* It would be much easier for political candidates to run against one unpopular component of ObamaCare. Luckily, it's possible to run against one component that bill break the whole thing.

Ezra Klein unwittingly explains how to destroy ObamaCare:
Pick your favorite system. Socialized medicine in Britain. Single-payer in Canada. Multi-payer with a government floor in France. Private plans with heavy public regulation in Sweden, Germany and elsewhere. None of these plans are "voluntary." In some, there's an individual mandate forcing you to pay premiums to insurance companies. In some, there's a system of taxation forcing you to pay premiums to the government. In all of them, at least so far as I know, participation is required except in very limited and uncommon circumstances. And there's a reason for that: No universal system can work without it.
In other words, the Democrats' health care reform law is a house of cards. Remove the right card and the whole house will collapse. In this case, the right card is the individual mandate.

Americans tend to dislike government mandates. I dislike them. You probably dislike them too. This is supposed to be a free country. Government mandates are the opposite of freedom. Government mandates are so abhorrent that the Democrats are waiting until after the 2012 general election for the health insurance mandate to take effect. Republicans should run against the mandate year after year, decade after decade, until it is repealed. Once the individual mandate is repealed, the whole ObamaCare house of cards will come crashing down.

The individual mandate will force people to buy health insurance no matter how expensive that health insurance gets. Expanding health insurance coverage by requiring people to buy something they can't afford, fining them if they don't buy it, and jailing them if they don't pay the fine... is just evil.

The individual mandate forces younger workers to subsidize the health insurance expenses of older workers. That's because the people who don't buy health insurance tend to be young and healthy. Since younger workers are just starting out in their careers and have had little time to save, while older workers have had decades to advance in their careers and build up a sizable nest egg, the individual mandate is a regressive tax. The individual mandate effectively forces entry-level workers to subsidize management. That's just wrong!

In addition, by forcing people to buy insurance, the individual mandate funnels gobs of money away from ordinary Americans and toward health insurance companies. Health insurance executives were happy to let Barack Obama bash them publicly, because he was advocating a law that will stuff their pockets with money. (He can bash me too if he forces people to pay me!)

Now here's the bad part. Of course, the individual mandate (or any part of ObamaCare) can't be repealed while Barack Obama is President. Furthermore, since ObamaCare is a copy of Massachusetts' RomneyCare, it can't be repealed by a future President Mitt Romney either. If Republicans want to collapse the ObamaCare house of cards, they need to both nominate someone other than Romney and win the 2012 general election. Since Mitt Romney is the likely Republican 2012 front-runner, it may be a long time before health care reform is obliterated.

In addition (not as a substitute!) to pursuing a legislative repeal of the mandate, it could be taken to the courts. Argue in court that forcing Americans, against their will, to buy something that may be difficult for them to afford, simply to exist as a human being in this country, is not one of the federal government's enumerated powers. The Washington Post puts it this way:
The individual mandate extends the commerce clause's power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying "cash for clunkers" is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.

If you choose to drive a car, then maybe you can be made to buy insurance against the possibility of inflicting harm on others. But making you buy insurance merely because you are alive is a claim of power from which many Americans instinctively shrink.

* ObamaCare is only designed to expand health insurance coverage. It is not designed to lower costs or improve quality. Unfortunately, many people incorrectly think it is.


  1. You couldn't be more clueless about what freedom is or what real economics is. Freedom isn't individual freedom to do whatever you want. That's anarchy. You confuse anarchy with democratic freedom.

    And you’re clueless as to how economics works in the real world. Insurance simply doesn't work unless everyone plays the game. And with a labor market competing for jobs, the other guy will accept less salary, less hourly wage, and no health insurance so he can get that job.

    It doesn't even matter how expensive health insurance gets, it can be a million dollars a year. If it's a million dollars a year, the McDonald's employees will make $1,000,000 a year plus minimum wage. Nobody is going to take the job where all there income goes to health insurance and there is nothing left over for food. It's just that simple. Prices always adjust to consume all of your income. That's what inflation is. You get a raise, the refineries and health insurance companies raise prices just enough to use it up.

    Nobody gets to wait till they have had a car accident before they buy car insurance; you buy it before the accident. And everyone is born with a body and on their way to getting sick eventually.
    Of course, younger workers pay for insurance that they use less. Then, like SSI and SSDI, when their older they pay less than they use. No one is immune to the probability of getting ill. And, you don’t have to have insurance, you can pay the penalty and it is cheaper than the insurance.

    And the analogy, "making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another" what a false analogy. We all pay taxes to support public transportation, it's an effective way to get everybody to work efficiently, then if you can afford a Chevy and want one, that's your choice, your freedom.

    The problem is that health insurance companies have a government-sanctioned monopoly on the market. And they are the only industry that is except from anti-trust laws. Now, that's un-American.

    Health insurance companies already have their pockets being stuffed. The economy collapsed last November, before there was a national health care bill. Your perception of cause and effect is backwards. The economy tanked because of the imbalance in the markets, medical care, energy, and the financial markets. You created a theory, imagine what will happen based on your theory, and ignore what did happen.

    Everything you claim will happen already happened. People went bankrupt, the economy took a dive, the insurance companies lined there pockets, and tens of millions of people can't afford the insurance premiums or the deductible.

    If you want individual freedom with out social responsibility, go find an island to live on. Then you can live in your idealized, unrealistic fantasyland.

    In the real world, the affordable health care act of 2009 is exactly what it should be, control over a monopolistic market. We did it the other way and it proved to not work. It's not a question of whether we need to regulate the market, but can we learn to regulate it correctly.

    The reason that it's marginally okay with the insurance companies is the same reason that professional football is okay with referees. When everyone has to play by the same rules, then everyone can play by the rules. Unless all insurance companies have to accept pre-existing conditions, no insurance company can accept them.

    Or maybe we should just throw out the baby with the bath water.

  2. The health care market has been one of a number of markets that are imbalanced and drove the downward economic spiral that came to head in November of 2009 through March of 2010. There are a number of fundamentals economics that the health care bill corrects.

    The first is that the health insurance industry is an industry of economies of scale. This fundamental condition is all that is necessary to create a monopoly. By it's very nature, monopolies maximize profits by producing less than the total demand and elevating pricing. Duopolies and other multiple company markets function well in a monopolistic manner. And, it is basic economics that companies do cooperate to maximize profits. Anyone that believes otherwise is simply not paying attention. The reality is that, by law, insurance companies enjoyed protection from anti trust laws under the The McCarran-Ferguson Act.

    The quote "It is not designed to lower costs or improve quality" demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of economics.

    Medicare fraud has cost trillions of dollars, and the bill addresses this. A shortage of doctors and nurses drive up prices, and the bill addresses this. The expensive treatment of uninsured at the emergency room drives up health costs, and the bill addresses this. The competitive need of insurance companies to drop people that have become ill or deny coverage on pre-existing conditions puts more individuals on the roles of the uninsured, and the bill addresses this. The fact that insurance cost skyrocket when low risk groups, competing in the labor market, must forgo insurance and accept a lower wage, drives prices upward, and the bill addresses this.

    If anything, the bill doesn't do enough. At the least, it does the least that is necessary to create a balance between the health care markets and the rest of the economy.

  3. It's interesting how, as universal health care got closer and closer to becoming a reality, that the real feelings of the opposition became apparent. Tea Bag Party protesters quickly dropped their misleading slogans to simply hurl racist insults.

    One conservative congressman, in a speech, exclaimed how he love's his grandmother. What he didn't say is that he doesn't love yours.

    The article above presents the very fundamental motivation of conservatives and anarchists using the term "libertarian" to fool themselves into believing that their perspective has any real viability.

    The article rightly tells us that affordable and accessible health care depends on everyone playing the game and playing by the same rules. What conservatives and liberals lack in their perception is that a law requiring everyone to play also gives each of us the opportunity to play by the rule with the knowledge that others' won't cheat.

    Conservatives and classical liberal anarchists rely on a single fundamental premise. That they may get lucky, that the other guy will get sick, and they can take advantage of the situation so they can have more.

    They are, in essence, cheaters. They are in it only for themselves. Like Mitt Romney, they have no interest in your welfare or my welfare. They live by the belief that more for you is less for them. They are incapable of understanding the benefit of cooperative behavior. The know nothing about the basics of economics which is a system of cooperative behavior. I simply put not stock of interest into the ramblings of the purely self interested as everything they say is designed for their personal benefit at the expense of others.

    The author states that health care reform and, fundamentally, health insurance itself, only works when everyone is part of the system. And he would target this, accepting higher premiums and health care costs on two bets, 1) that the other guy will get sick and have more expenses and 2) that the other guy won't be able to afford the premiums while he will. And if he wins the bet, he gets to feel good because he has more, validating he fundamental belief that less for you is more for him.

    He doesn't kid me, don't let him kid you. He's ignorant, in the strictest sense of the word. He ignores basic fundamentals of economics, creating his own false theory based on a childish premise.