and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column

Support for national health insurance hard to fathom
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, June 25, 2009

So much going on, I couldn't decide what to write about this week, until I heard violinist David Garrett playing "Who Wants to Live Forever?" on WGBH and thought of national health care.

So I renewed my membership to get the Garrett CD. If it includes that music from "The Highlander," I'll play it on my iPod as I expire. Rather than "rage," as Dylan Thomas would say, against the dying of the light, I'll just be resigned to the fact that since the American people thought it would be a good idea to put the government in charge of our health, many of us were bound to die prematurely.

Who wants to live forever anyhow, or even get old?

But I will go to my grave not understanding how a recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that 72 percent of respondents favored a government-sponsored health care plan to compete with private insurers.

People, people! How can anyone or anything compete with the government?! The government can always offer a better deal than its competitors by making its competitors pay taxes to fund the government's better deal!

Eventually nothing is left but the government with a monopoly on health insurance. And there goes the competition that controls costs and encourages good service.

Most Americans, in other polls, don't want a "single payer" health care system. But after everyone else loses the competition, that's what they'll have.

The poll also had 57 percent willing to pay higher taxes so that all Americans could be covered.

Stop! Think. We complain now that health insurance is too expensive, that many of us can't afford the premiums. When we are paying via the government for everyone, how is that going to be cheaper for us than what we pay for our own health insurance today?

There's only one way a health insurance system that covers everyone can be cheaper than one that covers only some and that's if what you get is not as good as what you are presently getting.

Yes, proponents say that having the government run things will result in less waste, paperwork and bureaucracy. What?

So that brings us to the final part of the poll, which indicated that 64 percent want government to guarantee health insurance for all Americans.

Most Americans, in other polls, don't want "socialized medicine." (We are told by indignant proponents not to use that phrase, which means that society as a whole, through its government, runs the health care system.) But if there is only one health insurance company after the competition is crushed, that monopoly company will run anything it wants, anyway it likes, and there will be nothing anyone can do about it.

The government will own us because it will own our access to staying alive. How much in higher taxes is that 57 percent willing to pay? How do they ever say no to Big Government Medicine when it demands more every year or you die?

Proponents attempt to answer objections by pointing to the success of the popular Medicare system.

But how do we define success? Medicare is almost bankrupt! Of course, it's popular with those who, after a major surgery or two, will be relying on "society" for the rest of their lives for those benefits covered by Medicare; yet they, too, will be paying ever-increasing premiums for supplemental insurance if they don't end up on the "old, don't waste money treating" pile when it finally all becomes unaffordable.

In the meantime, the drug companies (in an effort to kiss up to politicians) are going to help subsidize senior prescriptions. Sweet of them.

And where will they get the money? By charging younger sick people more? By spending less on research into new drugs to treat sick children?

Some national health care advocates point to the "success" of the Massachusetts prototype. Well, unfortunately, the State House News Service reports: "Providers of services to the disabled ... now say they may be forced to shut down after a decision by the state Medicaid office this week to temporarily suspend reimbursements for the care they provide. The decision ... cites 'cash flow' problems at MassHealth." Meanwhile, state Treasurer Tim Cahill is proposing deep cuts in Commonwealth Care, calling it a luxury taxpayers can no longer afford.

Where did Americans' common-sense opposition to national health care go?

OK, the country elected Barack Obama to make itself feel good. Couldn't we just bask in our present good feeling having given him control of the financial and automobile sectors of the economy before moving to put government in charge of the 17 percent of the economy that is our health care system? Shouldn't we get to know him a little better before we get carried away?

Since we good people want to make sure everyone is insured, why not just subsidize basic private insurance premiums for the poor? Unlike MassHealth, the country can charge it to the national debt, which is where a government insurance option will be charged anyhow.

If you still think a government insurance option is a good idea, ask your U.S. senators and congressman if they will be giving up their present, privileged insurance plan. I guarantee the U.S. Congress knows better than to be dependent on a health insurance system run by the U.S. Congress.

People, people! Wake up!  Or forever rest in peace.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.