Obama's $634 billion downpayment on health care

Sally Pipes has a great op-ed in today's New York Pos t that clearly and patiently explains why Obama's health care proposal is not only based on misinformation but will also result in an eventual takeover the the health system by government:

The president's budget repeats the popular claim that 45.7 million Americans are uninsured. The figure is taken as proof positive that the current system is failing - and that the government must step in to provide a remedy.

But that misleading number includes millions we can hardly call uninsured. About 18 million of the uninsured make more $50,000 a year - and almost 10 million have yearly incomes over $75,000. More than 10 million aren't US citizens. And as many as 14 million are already eligible for government programs like Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP - but haven't signed up.

For most folks, health insurance is simply too expensive. And ramping up funding for government health programs, as Obama proposes, won't make insurance cheaper. In fact, it could cause private insurance to become more expensive.

After all, the feds reimburse hospitals and doctors at below-market rates for Medicare and Medicaid patients. So those of us with private health plans have to pay more to fill the gap - and that hidden tax is about 10 percent. In California, for example, private payers paid an extra $45 billion to compensate for unpaid Medicare costs in 2004.

Obama's budget also takes aim at prescription-drug costs by forcing manufacturers to give Medicaid a bigger discount, probably 20 percent, on brand-name drug purchases (it already gets a 15 percent break). That might help curb Medi caid's expenses, but it will raise drug prices for everyone else, who will have to make up the difference.

Taken as a whole, Obama's health plan is predicated upon the misguided notion that government can deliver care more efficiently than the private sector. There's ample evidence to the contrary.

Just look at the failure of existing government health programs - both here and abroad. Many Medicaid patients have a difficult time finding a doctor. According to a 2003 study by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, doctors are five times more likely to turn away Medicaid patients than those with private insurance.

Stopping the nationalization of health care will get more and more difficult as Obama's insurance plans get more and more expensive every year. Looking at the plan in Massachusetts, you can see mandatory premiums rising every year and still not covering the costs of health care. That means that eventually, the feds will have to dictate everything from costs to procedures to who gets care and who doesn't. It is the logic of government and anyone who doesn't see that nationalizing health insurance will lead to nationalizing health care itself doesn't know government or the nature of the beast.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky