Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Unhealthy Arrogance - Modern Day Lunacy
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The only thing healthy about Congress' health insurance legislation is the healthy skepticism about it by most of the public, as revealed by polls. What is most unhealthy about this legislation is the raw arrogance in the way it was conceived and passed.
Supporters of government health insurance call its passage "historic." Past attempts to pass such legislation-- going back for decades-- failed repeatedly. But now both houses of Congress have passed government health care legislation and it is just a question of reconciling their respective bills and presenting President Obama with a political "victory."
In short, this is not about improving the health of the American people. It is about passing something-- anything-- to keep the Obama administration from ending up with egg on its face by being unable to pass a bill, after so much hype and hoopla. Politically, looking impotent is a formula for disaster at election time. Far better to pass even bad legislation that will not actually go into effect until after the 2012 presidential election, so that the public will not know whether it makes medical care better or worse until it is too late for the voters to hold the administration accountable.
The utter cynicism of this has been apparent from the outset, in the rush to pass a health care bill in a hurry, in order to meet wholly arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines. First it was supposed to be passed before the August 2009 Congressional recess. Then it was supposed to be passed before Labor Day. When that didn't happen, it was supposed to be rushed to passage before Christmas.
Why-- especially since the legislation would not take effect until years from now?
The only rational explanation for such haste to pass a bill that will be slow to go into effect is to prevent the public from knowing what is in this massive legislation that even members of Congress are unlikely to have read. That is also the only reason that makes sense for postponing the time when Obamacare goes into action after the next presidential election.
What does calling this medical care legislation "historic" mean? It means that previous administrations gave up the idea when it became clear that the voting public did not want government control of medical care. What is "historic" is that this will be the first administration to show that it doesn't care one bit what the public wants or doesn't want.
In short, this is not about the public's health. It is about Obama's ego and his chance to impose his will and leave a legacy.
This is not the only massive legislation to be rushed to passage in Congress and then left to go into effect slowly. The same political formula was used earlier, to pass the "stimulus" bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars that the government doesn't have-- and that may well amount to more than a trillion dollars when the interest on the debt it creates is added, for this and the next generation to pay off.
Legislation is not the only sign of this administration's contempt for the intelligence of the public and for the safeguards of democratic government.
The appointment of White House "czars" to make policy across a wide spectrum of issues-- unknown people who get around the Constitution's requirement of Senate confirmation for Cabinet members-- is yet another sign of the mindset that sees the fundamental laws and values of this country as just something to get around, in order to impose the will of an arrogant elite.
That some of these "czars" have already revealed their own contempt for the values of American society in the things they have said and done only reinforces the point.
In a sense, this administration is only the end result of a long social process that includes raising successive generations with dumbed-down education in schools and colleges that have become indoctrination centers for the visions of the left. Our education system has turned out many people who have never heard any other vision and who can only learn what is wrong with the prevailing vision from bitter experience.
That bitter experience now awaits them, at home and abroad.
Modern Day Lunacy
Walter E. Williams
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Rep. Joe Courtney D-Conn., a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, have introduced the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act, which would eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions in all insurance markets. That's an Obama administration priority. I wonder whether President Obama and his congressional supporters would go a step further and protect not just patients but everyone against pre-existing condition exclusions by insurance companies. Let's look at the benefits of such a law.
A person might save quite a bit of money on fire insurance. He could wait until his home is ablaze and then walk into Nationwide and say, "Sell me a fire insurance policy so I can have my house repaired." The Nationwide salesman says, "That's lunacy!" But the person replies, "Congress says you cannot deny me insurance because of a pre-existing condition." This mandate against insurance company discrimination would not only apply to home insurance but auto insurance and life insurance as well. Instead of a wife wasting money on costly life insurance premiums, she could spend that money on jewelry, cosmetics and massages and then wait until her husband kicked the bucket to buy life insurance on him.
Insurance companies don't stay in business and prosper by being stupid. If Congress were to enact a law eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions, what might be expected? Say I'm a salesman for Nationwide and you demand that I write you an insurance policy for your house that has already gone up in flames. I send an appraiser out to your house to get an estimate how much money it would take to make you whole. Let's say it comes to $400,000. Guess how much I'm going to charge you for the policy? If you said somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000, you'd be pretty close to the right answer. You might say, "Williams, you're right. Forcing fire and auto insurance companies to sell policies for a pre-existing fire or auto accident is bizarre and stupid, but it's different with health insurance." Yes, health insurance is different from fire and auto insurance but the insurance principle remains the same.
If Congress and the president are successful in making the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act the law of the land, their treachery won't stop there. Insurance companies will attempt to charge people with pre-existing health conditions a higher price to compensate for their higher expected cost. Those people will complain to Congress. Then Congress will enact insurance premium price controls. Insurance companies might try to restrict just what treatments they will cover under such restrictions. That means Congress will play a greater role in managing what insurance companies can and cannot do.
The dilemma Congress always faces, when it messes with the economy, was aptly described in a Negro spiritual play by Marcus Cook Connelly titled "Green Pastures." In it, God laments to the angel Gabriel, "Every time Ah passes a miracle, Ah has to pass fo' or five mo' to ketch up wid it," adding, "Even bein God ain't no bed of roses." When Congress creates a miracle for one American, it creates a non-miracle for another. After that, Congress has to create a compensatory miracle. Many years ago, I used to testify before Congress, something I refuse to do now. At several of the hearings, I urged Congress to get out of the miracle business and leave miracle making up to God.
For a president and congressman to shamelessly propose something like the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act demonstrates just how far we've gone down the road to perdition. The most tragic thing is that most Americans have no idea that such an act violates every principle of insurance and it's something that not even yesteryear's lunatics would have thought up.
Posted by Brett at 2:44 PM