Biden's Healthcare Rules Are Killing, Not Helping
Responding to reports of a mental health crisis, President Biden wants to create new rules that promise to "improve insurance coverage for mental health care in America." Most people recall an Obama promise to give Americans "all the care they deserve" and how that turned out. Every time Washington "fixes" a problem in healthcare, things go from bad to worse.
Inadequate care for mental illness is not new at all. Well intentioned attempts to address mental ill health have consistently failed over many decades. Bethlem Lunatic Asylum gave us the word "bedlam" to describe the horrors visited upon mentally ill as well as hearing-impaired individuals, erroneously labeled as "mentally impaired." The only reason mental health care is perceived as an acute problem is the sudden, overwrought attention given by complicit media, allowing Washington to call it a (new) crisis.
The new, political definition of "crisis" is "real or false threat to the public that can be used as an excuse to expand government power and control." One need only recall the COVID "crisis," proven to be a fabricated existential threat, that was used to justify quasi-martial law, including suppression of our First Amendment freedoms.
Biden's solution to the mental health officially proclaimed crisis is the same as for COVID: more BARRCOME (bureaucracy, administration, rules, regulations, compliance, oversight, mandates, enforcement). BARRCOME invariably make things worse, not better.
BARRCOME cost taxpayers trillions of taxpayer dollars. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) cost $1.76 trillion, most going to create unnecessary BARRCOME, including 50 state Health Insurance Exchanges. This author was a director of one.
The U.S. spent $4.3 trillion on healthcare in 2022, 18.3 percent of GDP. Between 31 percent and 50 percent of those healthcare dollars were diverted from paying for care to pay for BARRCOME. Such "bureaucratic diversion" explains how Washington steals healthcare dollars to pay itself and denies Americans trillions of dollars in patient care.
BARRCOME cost care providers both money to comply with federal rules and insurance requirements, and time that is taken away from patients.
Worst of all, BARRCOME cost patients time and ultimately lives, viz., "47,000 veterans may have died waiting in line" for care. Known as death by queue, Americans are succumbing to treatable illnesses because they cannot get care in time — time that is stolen by BARRCOME.
No government can mandate mental health care, or any care, for that matter. Medical care is the work product of a nurse, doctor, or therapist. Washington cannot mandate a doctor to work. Washington cannot order people to attend nursing school or to have mental health sessions at midnight. The Constitution protects the personal freedom, viz., from Washington work mandates — of all Americans, including providers of care.
Biden's solution to the latest, fabricated crisis in mental health is more BARRCOME, exacerbating, rather than solving, the root causes: regulatory burden and bureaucratic diversion. For proof, note what the ACA did. In addition to wasting $1.76 trillion, the doctor shortage became worse, and maximum wait times for primary care went from 99 days to 122 days.
When Biden said there was a COVID crisis, the public trusted him and went along with his masking, social distancing, lockdowns, and mandated vaccinations. As we gradually learned that masks don't work; that lockdowns did more harm than good, especially to children; that mRNA shots were untested gene therapy, not standard vaccines, and were neither safe nor effective; and that COVID was dangerous only to elderly with multiple comorbid conditions, the public had to accept that Washington had lied to us and abused our trust. Biden's COVID policies cost Americans their jobs, livelihoods, even their lives.
Now when Biden announces a new crisis, this time in mental health, we recall the boy who cried "Wolf!" Americans don't trust him. We no longer trust self-proclaimed authorities such as Fauci, nor federal agencies such as the CDC, FDA, even the FBI and Department of Justice.
The answer to healthcare's myriad problems, including mental health, is to address the root cause: BARRCOME. To get timely, affordable care to Americans, we need to reduce the federal role in healthcare.
Start with restoration of decision-making authority — both financial and medical — to patients! The government doesn't pay for our health care; we do.
If patients could spend their own healthcare dollars — $30,065 this year for an average family — they would pay care-givers, not bureaucrats. Cost of care would go down dramatically without government control of the market. Trillions of dollars could be recouped to pay for patient care by eliminating bureaucratic diversion. And without the mandatory time wastage of regulatory compliance and insurance hassle, providers would have more time to spend with patients.
For cynics and pessimists who shout "impossible," there is ample evidence proving that patient-controlled healthcare can work, including financial models and medical safety nets for the impoverished and medically fragile.
Deane Waldman, M.D., MBA is professor emeritus of pediatrics, pathology, and decision science; former director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation; and author of the multi-award-winning book Curing the Cancer in U.S. Healthcare: StatesCare and Market-Based Medicine.