Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Re-Education on Health Care

We are now one year since former president Bill Clinton urged Democrats not be faint of heart and push forward on totally overhauling this country's health care system-claiming that Americans would learn to love it as it aged: "I’m telling you no matter how low [Republicans] drive support for this with misinformation, the minute the president signs a health care reform bill his approval will go up. Secondly, within a year, when all those bad things they say will happen don’t happen, and all the good things happen, approval will explode."

Gee, how's that working out? In the current election cycle we can't seem to find many Dems willing to extol the virtue of what they voted in lock step for-probably because the rationales about, "bending the cost curve," and lowering individual premiums, have been exposed as arrant nonsense; not to mention the fact that the cost containments in the bill lead inexorably to some form of rationing.

But what has roiled the waters recently in this regard is the fact that health insurers are raising their rates-claiming that the ObamaCare mandates have forced their hands: "Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats' efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections."

Who would have thought that bringing 30 million new folks onto the roles-not to mention covering folks with pre-existing conditions-would bend that old cost curve in the other direction? The timing isn't good news for Dems looking to play defense in a bad political climate: "Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats' efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.In addition to pledging that the law would restrain increases in Americans' insurance premiums, Democrats front-loaded the legislation with early provisions they hoped would boost public support. Those include letting children stay on their parents' insurance policies until age 26, eliminating co-payments for preventive care and barring insurers from denying policies to children with pre-existing conditions, plus the elimination of the coverage caps."

The old adage about there being no free lunch comes to mind right now, but what really concerns us, is the reaction to this basic law of economic gravity from the country's health bureaucrat in chief, Kathleen Sebelius: "President Barack Obama's top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won't tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law. "There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby. "Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections," Sebelius said."

This is, put simply, the jawbone of an ass-and it is, in our view, an example of an ideological world view that believes that government's wishes can trump the laws of economics. But, as Michael Barone points out, there is a more sinister take from all this-and he sees Sebelius as an exemplar of, "gangster government." And our first amendment aficionados should be alarmed: "But Sebelius has "zero tolerance" for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases" (which would presumably mean all rate increases). And there's a threat. "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014." That's a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs." (emphasis added)

What Sebelius would like to do is bend the reality curve-and her descent into Soviet-style governance doesn't stop at bogarting insurers. There are the poor misinformed citizens who need government's helping hand in order to better understand that the ObamaCare medicine is really good for them.  In a word, re-education: "With a number of polls showing a sustained level of opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform efforts more than five months after passage, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Obama administration has “a lot of reeducation to do” heading into the midterms."

This re-education gambit is, we're afraid, the last refuge of the liberal scoundrel-who see the stupid uneducated masses as being bedeviled by that old bogeyman, "false consciousness." It is both patronizing and wrongheaded. What the folks are seeing is a vast expansion of government-something that Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas has helpfully mapped out for us: "This clearly is a candidate for most disorganized organizational chart ever. It shows that the health system is complex, yes, but also ornate. The new law creates 68 grant programs, 47 bureaucratic entities, 29 demonstration or pilot programs, six regulatory systems, six compliance standards and two entitlements."

But there's more! The law creates an expediter to end run some of the bureaucratic entanglements: "Getting that massive enterprise up and running will be next to impossible. So Democrats streamlined the process by granting Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the authority to make judgments that can’t be challenged either administratively or through the courts. This monarchical protection from challenges is extended as well to the development of new patient-care models under Obama’s controversial recess appointment, Donald Berwick, whom Republicans are calling the rationer-in-chief. Berwick will run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he can experiment with ways to use administrative fiat to move our system toward the socialized medicine of Europe, which he has at times embraced."

The same Sebelius that has just issued woof tickets to the country's insurance companies. This is simply a nightmare in the making, and no amount of educating the American kennel can get the dogs to eat this dog food-hence the sins of omission by Democrats in this election cycle. It is now quite apparent that ObamaCare is the poster child for what is wrong with the president's entire approach to governing.

Republicans may have too great a suspicion of the ability of the public sector to solve some of the country's most pressing problems, but the enthusiasm of Democrats-along with their total suspension of disbelief about unintended incompetence-about the power of government to do good is chilling-making this election cycle the most important in our lifetime (at least until 2012).

If things go as they are appearing that they will, it will not be the folks who will be subject to re-education, but the over-reaching majority party who will be schooled about just what good sense Americans can possess when facing the prospects of consuming rancid policies that run counter to their core beliefs.