OP-ED

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 http://tinyurl.com/yjs3mgf
[2] See http://tinyurl.com/yfuw3k3
[3] See http://tinyurl.com/yfxq8ca
[4] See http://tinyurl.com/ykefsk6
[5] See http://tinyurl.com/ygf42fj
[6] See http://tinyurl.com/ykefsk6
[7] See http://tinyurl.com/lkvgsp
[8] See http://tinyurl.com/nx4nh6
[9] See ibid.
[10] See http://tinyurl.com/yhhr56v
[11] See ibid.
[12] See http://tinyurl.com/yhzhkvg and http://tinyurl.com/lhyr9o
[13] See http://tinyurl.com/yksd6h3
[14] See http://tinyurl.com/yl9gg27
[15] See http://tinyurl.com/yknpxd6
[16] See http://tinyurl.com/d2k5hb
[17] See http://tinyurl.com/yf8qmfh

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

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binary tradingcoleus forskohlii diabetes and hypothyroidismGary LampmandemitrMel Hawkins Recent comment authors
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Gary Lampman
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Gary Lampman

Caribou Barbie (Shara Palin) Has become the Image of the Party of No.Turning back time to ownership of humans(slavery), women as mere property and the masses as indentured servants. Just Like O’sama Bin Laden is the face on the War on Terror.She is Cute, comes in several poses and matching outfits. She, like all Barbies loves MR Ken. Who still is a Bachelor. Why that is so? The GOP needs Caribou Barbie to be distraction from the Ugliness that engulfs the party. I think Ken and Barbie who were only plastic Figures. Need to stay out of Health Insurance Debate.… Read more »

demitr
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demitr

The Republican party got us into the heath care mess by blocking govt alternative…. The single Payer health care does not cost a whole lot. Small business and individuals who want to could buy into the plan and it would break the monopoly on health care… The GNC or Republican party has a long history of lying and Sara Palin on on the lying band wagon. They lied about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction. They lied about it being a big mistake… Cost 1 trillion and counting. The lied and are lying about health care. Cost 15 trillion. Evidence: Blue/Cross… Read more »

Mel Hawkins
Guest

Governor Palin got one thing right, in her article on “Good Intentions,” when she said that “good intentions are not enough.” The problem with pending healthcare-reform legislation, like so many reform initiatives that have preceded it, is that it is not really healthcare-reform legislation, it is “health insurance” reform legislation. Until we are willing to admit that the problem with the American healthcare system is health insurance, we will continue to add new layers of complexity to a system that is already convoluted. Think about it for a moment. If our objective is to provide universal access to healthcare, what… Read more »

R Quinn
Guest

It’s not a matter of changing simple pieces of who has what incentive to do what, it is a fundamental change in the way be pay for health care and how we evaluate those who provide that care.
For example, why do we have a system with hundreds of thousands of doctors acting like small business entrepreneurs?
http://www.quinnscommentary.com/category/healthcare

acai berry
Guest

all plans that are funded through tax dollars should be prohibited from charging back private health plans. Congress should acknowledge the commitment they made to the beneficiaries of these programs and provide the funds necessary to pay for the promised services. This was the standard many years ago when private health plans had COB restrictions against paying for services provided to beneficiaries of government plans.

RC Goughnour
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RC Goughnour

Well the health care debate is alive and kicking. I am not sure the question about Ms. Palin’s daughter’s health care provider was ever answered and I don’t know for certain who paid for the expenses. However, my (very educated) guess is that the taxpayers did. Remember, Mrs. Palin’s husband is an Alaska Native. This entitles him and his children to “free” care from the Alaska Native Medical Center, part of the Indian Health Service. Now I suppose she could have also been covered under the State of Alaska’s health care program Mrs. Palin would have been covered under as… Read more »

Richard Quinn
Guest

Good intentions or not matters little, what we need is common sense and forthrightness in attacking the real problem and in the process being honest with the American people. None of that is happening now. What we are going to get is a good solution for the wrong problem with the creation of an even bigger problem down the road. About the time Medicare crashes, we will learn about the problem we have created with a new public option. And, the American people will learn what it really takes to control health care costs (as will the medical profession so… Read more »

Bill Kolter
Guest

Health care reform will create waiting lines for specialist care. This short video explains it very well. Check it out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx2RwoutWCI&feature=pyv&ad=3802841811&kw=health%20care%20reform

Caitlin Rothermel
Guest

With all the increased awareness of ghost-authoring practices in the medical community, I’m really surprised that THCB ran an article that was clearly not authored by Sarah Palin. When that is added to my general disapproval of this cookie-cutter, GOP-message-laden post (that provides no new information for anyone truly keeping up with the issue), THCB has just gone down a serious notch in my estimation.

Nate
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Nate

I don’t think you can ever rely on an aultristic system, efficency is maintained by personal responsibility. productivity is measured by the person paying for it. If some person perceives benefit from hiring someone to dig a hole and fill it up repeatidly then the person doing the work is being productive. You might disagree with the value of a hole being dug and filled but you can’t deny the person doing the work was productive. They dug and filled a hole. While you are a good doctor that pratices in the best interest of your patient many doctors do… Read more »

Andrew Weinstein, MD
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Andrew Weinstein, MD

Nate: I’m a capitalist as well. But as a physician my role is to recommend that which is best for the patient, not that which is best for me. I routinely recommend a course of action that is not in my economic best interest. **I also don’t see a difference between paying for beneficial treatment or paying for voodo medicine, we pay either way. ** Then you don’t see the difference between productive labor vs paying someone to dig a hole and then fill it up and there is little i can do to open your eyes. The point is… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

Wow, Nate! Wow! I have no idea where to start, so I won’t even try.
I think you just illustrated why medicine is not, cannot, will not ever be the same as any other business.
I am 100% certain that no self respecting physician practices this way, other than maybe some folks in places like McAllen….

Nate
Guest
Nate

rbar careful judgineg the entireity of ones knowlwedge by a couple hundred post. Asking for unnecessary tests and treatments is choosing the more costly option. Each treatment is a decision on its own, by choosing to have a test that is not needed or repetitive is more costly then choosing to forgo said treatment. I disagree with limiting people to what is clearly beneficial, I think more of our health is mental then medicine prefers to admit. Placebo’s do cure the perception of a condition, the perception of a condition can cost just as much or more then the actual… Read more »