Good Intentions Aren’t Enough with Health Care Reform

Good Intentions Aren’t Enough with Health Care Reform


Sarah-palinFormer Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s widely publicized comments on death panels and  rationing this August were among the opening shots of an unprecedented national fight over health care reform. At the time, few sober analysts would have predicted that Palin’s criticisms would gain traction. Yet, they found a receptive audience among conservative opponents of the Obama administration’s health care reform plans, triggering an ugly battle between supporters of reform and right wing opponents.This weekend, Gov. Palin returned to the healthcare debate with another post to her official Facebook page that touches on the talking points you’re likely to hear in the months to come from Republican critics of the Obama administration’s health care reform efforts.  In the spirit of debate we are republishing the post in its entirety. — John Irvine

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has approved its health care bill, it’s a good time to step back and  take a look at the long term consequences should its provisions be enacted into law.

The bill prohibits insurance companies from refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and from charging sick people higher premiums. [1] It attempts to offset the costs this will impose on insurance companies by requiring everyone to purchase coverage, which in theory would expand the pool of paying policy holders.

However, the maximum fine for those who refuse to purchase health insurance is $750. [2] Even factoring in government subsidies, the cost of purchasing a plan is much more than $750. The result: many people, especially the young and healthy, will simply not buy coverage, choosing to pay the fine instead. They’ll wait until they’re sick to buy health insurance, confident in the knowledge that insurance companies can’t deny them coverage. Such a scenario is a perfect storm for increasing the cost of health care and creating an unsustainable mandate program.

Those driving this plan no doubt have good intentions, but good intentions aren’t enough. There were good intentions behind the drive to increase home ownership for lower-income Americans, but forcing financial institutions to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them had terrible unintended consequences. We all felt those consequences during the financial collapse last year. Unintended consequences always result from top-down big government plans like the current health care proposals, and we can’t afford to ignore that fact again.

Supposedly the Senate Finance bill will be paid for by cutting Medicare by nearly half a trillion dollars and by taxing the so-called “Cadillac” health care plans enjoyed by many union members. The plan will also impose heavy taxes on insurers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and clinical labs. [3] The result of all of these taxes is clear. As Douglas Holtz-Eakin noted in the Wall Street Journal, these new taxes “will be passed on to consumers by either directly raising insurance premiums, or by fueling higher health-care costs that inevitably lead to higher premiums.” [4] Unfortunately, it will lead to lower wages too, as employees will have to sacrifice a greater percentage of their paychecks to cover these higher premiums. [5] In other words, if the Democrats succeed in overhauling health care, we’ll all bear the costs. The Senate Finance bill is effectively a middle class tax increase, and as Holtz-Eakin points out, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation those making less than $200,000 will be hit hardest. [6] With our country’s debt and deficits growing at an alarming rate, many of us can’t help but wonder how we can afford a new trillion dollar entitlement program. The president has promised that he won’t sign a health care bill if it “adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade.” [7] But his administration also promised that his nearly trillion dollar stimulus plan would keep the unemployment rate below 8%. [8] Last month, our unemployment rate was 9.8%, the highest it’s been in 26 years. [9] At first the current administration promised that the stimulus would save or create 3 to 4 million jobs. [10] Then they declared that it created 1 million jobs, but the stimulus reports released this week showed that a mere 30,083 jobs have been created, while nearly 3.4 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus was passed. [11] Should we believe the administration’s claims about health care when their promises have proven so unreliable about the stimulus?

In January 2008, presidential candidate Obama promised not to negotiate behind closed doors with health care lobbyists. In fact, he committed to “broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are. Because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process. And overcoming the special interests and the lobbyists…” [12] However, last February, after serving only a few weeks in office, President Obama met privately at the White House with health care industry executives and lobbyists. [13]

Yesterday, POLITICO reported that aides to President Obama and Democrat Senator Max Baucus met with corporate lobbyists in April to help “set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform.” [14] Needless to say, their negotiations were not broadcast on C-SPAN for the American people to see.

Presidential candidate Obama also promised that he would not “sign any nonemergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days.” [15] PolitiFact reports that this promise has already been broken three times by the current administration. [16] We can only hope that it won’t be broken again with health care reform.

All of this certainly gives the appearance of politics-as-usual in Washington with no change in sight.

Americans want health care reform because we want affordable health care. We don’t need subsidies or a public option. We don’t need a nationalized health care industry. We need to reduce health care costs. But the Senate Finance plan will dramatically increase those costs, all the while ignoring common sense cost-saving measures like tort reform.

Though a Congressional Budget Office report confirmed that reforming medical malpractice and liability laws could save as much as $54 billion over the next ten years, tort reform is nowhere to be found in the Senate Finance bill. [17]

Here’s a novel idea. Instead of working contrary to the free market, let’s embrace the free market. Instead of going to war with certain private sector companies, let’s embrace real private-sector competition and allow consumers to purchase plans across state lines. Instead of taxing the so-called “Cadillac” plans that people get through their employers, let’s give individuals who purchase their own health care the same tax benefits we currently give employer-provided health care recipients. Instead of crippling Medicare, let’s reform it by providing recipients with vouchers so that they can purchase their own coverage.

Now is the time to make your voices heard before it’s too late. If we don’t fight for the market-oriented, patient-centered, and result-driven reform plan that we deserve, we’ll be left with the disastrous unintended consequences of the plans currently being cooked up in Washington.

– Sarah Palin

[1] See
[2] See
[3] See
[4] See
[5] See
[6] See
[7] See
[8] See
[9] See ibid.
[10] See
[11] See ibid.
[12] See and
[13] See
[14] See
[15] See
[16] See
[17] See

This post originally appeared on Sarah Palin’s official Facebook page.

Leave a Reply

73 Comments on "Good Intentions Aren’t Enough with Health Care Reform"

Margalit Gur-Arie
Oct 18, 2009

I’m afraid that we are mixing terms here. There are two kinds of costs: there is the cost of health care and there is the cost of healthcare insurance.
If and when people wait to buy insurance until they get sick, the cost of insurance will indeed rise. The cost of the actual care will not be affected by this behavior.
So which cost are we trying to reduce here? and why?
Here is another novel idea, or maybe not so novel, health care is, or rather should be, a social service, just like education. So let’s just stop toying around with insurance schemes and reforms and concentrate on what is really important: provide affordable, quality health care to every American in this country.
Get big corporations, Wall Street and all other greedy predators out of our health care system. There is enough money poured into the system by all of us to provide better care than any other nation on earth. We just need to realign providers interests and reallocate some of the resources towards real quality of care.
This is not about free markets, investments or profits. This is about human decency, compassion and social responsibility.

Oct 18, 2009

“However, the maximum fine for those who refuse to purchase health insurance is $750. [2] Even factoring in government subsidies, the cost of purchasing a plan is much more than $750.”
The costs are the problem. Until prices are strongly regulated, and health insurance companies eliminated, there can’t be true reform. Tort reform would lend itself to providers being held even less responsible than they are now, if you can imagine that. I will never purchase health insurance, and will not contribute to the companies CEO salaries. If I’m going to pay, I want to pay for health care.
You want market-driven health care? Abolish the insurance companies now. Anyone wanting health care must pay for it, period. The alternative is socialized medicine.
This editorial does not scare me at all. That is because even though the proposed reform is not a solution, it will force the dismantling of the current system. What actually is scary is that this single issue may have the capacity to drive the USA to full socialism, when socialized health care is perfectly possible in a capitalistic system. The refusal to cooperate for the good of all of us, by those opposing reform and protecting certain interests, is going to bring out some real ugliness.

Ann Cabezas Creed
Oct 18, 2009

Im a registered nurse with 20 years experience managing a surgeons private practice. One of biggest money saving mechanisms that could be put into place: Concerning medicare recepients- stop the over utilization of procedures, test, and Dr. visits. Doctors are paid by CPT codes for procedures and office visits. They know how to get more money from medicare and the other insurance companies using certain CPT codes. For example a dermatologist who does a biopsy on a skin lesion will get a lot more payment than just “freezing” it off. A well trained dermatologist can diagnose many skin lesions by simply looking at the lesion (but if he performs a biopsy, he gets paid a lot more) This is just one example of over utilization by doctors.
Tort reform is a MUST if cost are ever to be brought down. Doctor’s malpractice insurance premiums are a very large percentage of his overhead. (Which the insurance companies wind up paying for)

Oct 18, 2009

“health care is, or rather should be, a social service, just like education.”
Wow Margilt, you are aware how much of a failure our public education system is correct? Many schools have sub 50% graduation rates, that is your model for HC reform? I’ll assume after further thought you want to take that comment back.
“provide affordable, quality health care to every American in this country.”
THis is best accomplished in a free market system mostly free of government intervention. It worked great until 1965 when the government started fixing it.

Oct 19, 2009

“We don’t want subsidies…” just tax subsidies.
“We don’t want government handouts…” just government vouchers.
“We don’t want government interference in medicine…” just government interference in patient’s rights to receive compensation for malpractice. (BTW, $54 billion over 10 years is 0.0027 of current costs…)
Sarah, you’re still not making sense.

Oct 19, 2009

“There were good intentions behind the drive to increase home ownership for lower-income Americans, but forcing financial institutions to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them had terrible unintended consequences.”
Again Ms. Palin shows a complete lack of knowledge about issues. She simple mouths the mantra necessary to attract her reich wing supporters and divert discussion about the facts. She continues to voice inaccuracies that the financial meltddown was a failure of too much government and not a failure of too less regulation of the “free” market. That she still holds ANY public credibility is a due to our failed corporate 4th estate that sells personality over substance, and again shows she’s not any smarter than a 5th grader.
I will not even attempt to debate an idiot and corporate shill who despite that 95% of the healthcare market is private and that insurance simply passes costs along, attempts to convince us that more deregualtion of the insurance market will make a dent in unaffordable care.

Oct 19, 2009

Congratulations, Mr. Holt, your blog has officially jumped the shark.

Oct 19, 2009

This is a joke, right? A spoof of some sort?

Oct 19, 2009

> Congratulations, Mr. Holt, your blog
> has officially jumped the shark.
> This is a joke, right? A spoof of some sort?
No, it is a public forum.

Oct 19, 2009

I can’t believe we have let this debate include someone so removed from the reality of this debate. Honestly, this was once a forum for educated and impassioned bloggers to make their case, now it has included the side-show of American politics.
Disgraced Gov. Palin (R-Alaska) has no business discussing this topic or being in this forum.
If we run out of bloggers for a day, why not just post a request for readers to opine? This is not a right-wing vs. left-wing comment, but rather one that is committed to ensuring that we have a couple of outlets (since mainstream media is failing us) where rational and educated information can be reviewed.
A shame that I wasted 12 minutes on Gov. Palin today, time I’ll never get back.

Oct 19, 2009

I enjoyed it. Debates involve multiple sides of an issue and it is good to see this blog is not doomed to become an echo chamber of the same opinions posted repeatedly by a handful of authors. Somehow folks will survive a differing view — from a different author — being placed in front of them to consider.

Oct 19, 2009

Wonder who “ghosted” this for Citizen Palin? I’m also curious who paid for the prenatal care and delivery of her grandchild? Alaska Medicaid or Alaska State Employee Health Plan perhaps? Just curious if she has every availed herself of a public insurance plan or been uninsured. If she were ever truly at the mercy of our healthcare marketplace. I might find her just a little more credible.

Matthew Bowdish
Oct 19, 2009

Abby, Peter and E don’t seem to want to hear any arguments other than their own. I may not agree with Gov Palin on a variety of issues, but telling her, or anyone you disagree with, to essentially shut up is a sad trend in American politics. Address the validity of her arguments and please take your mean-spirited comments to HuffPo. Thanks for posting Gov Palin’s entry Tom.

Oct 19, 2009

>>Wonder who “ghosted” this for Citizen Palin? I’m also curious who paid for the prenatal care and delivery of her grandchild? Alaska Medicaid or Alaska State Employee Health Plan perhaps? Just curious if she has every availed herself of a public insurance plan or been uninsured. If she were ever truly at the mercy of our healthcare marketplace. I might find her just a little more credible.<<
You're attacking the messenger, not debating the message. As for your last comment, where is Congress' credibility? Or do you agree that there's none there either?

Oct 19, 2009

You cannot eliminate tests done by doctors and I don’t believe that is way to get more money. In today’s day and age we can’t just have guessing games on patients. U need proveable tests done to prove someone has a disease or sickness. We’d be back in barbaric days if docs just guessed. A doc guessed on me without a swab test and I developed rheumatic fever because he didn’t diagnose strep throat and didn’t use test. I suffered for over 5 yrs going to hospital and doctor over it! Tests are necessary. This doc was from Armenia and said it was polyps. What a lark.