Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Government Big Enough...

A government big enough to give you everything you need,
is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.

Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States, August 12, 1974.


According to a report just released by the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has almost doubled, from $940 billion to $1.76 trillion, in just two and a half short years. Dial the way-back machine to September 9, 2009, and listen to President Obama.
Now, add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years -- less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration.
It's also very unlikely that this is the end of the story. In 1966, when Medicare was just a glimmer in power-hungry politician's eyes, the government projected that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual tab was $110 billion, falling just short of a factor of ten miscalculation.




Well, at least with government taking over our health care, it's bound to become more egalitarian, right? After all, government has now dictated that employers must provide for medication and services such as birth control pills that the employers would rather not provide, owing to religious objections.

Of course, a few states have decided that since the federal government is involved in the medical legislation game, it's a target of opportunity for them as well. And the results aren't pretty. Look no farther than Arizona for an example.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse a controversial bill that would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.

Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.

“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”

Lesko said this bill responds to a contraceptive mandate in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law March 2010.
So now the federal government and the state of Arizona will get to battle this all out in court, costing millions of dollars in legal fees, benefitting nobody but the lawyers, and there's only one place those dollars can come from: taxpayers. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Arizona's state senate has passed a bill that allows doctors to withold information concerning prenatal conditions that might lead the mother to consider abortion, Texas is considering forgoing $35 million in federal funds for women's health to keep any of it from getting into Planned Parenthood's hands, and although it appears Virginia has given up on assaulting women with an ultrasound probe if they dare consider an abortion, it's already law in Texas.

In retaliation, Nina Turner, an Ohio State Senator, has introduced a "Viagra Bill." Apparently, silly season for legislation has just gotten started.

We mustn't leave employers out of the mix, either. Employers have been refusing to hire people who smoke since at least the mid-1980s. Recently we've seen the rise of company health fairs, where employees (voluntarily, so far) submit to blood sugar and cholesterol tests, lung capacity and Body Mass Index measurements, and the like. While this is currently explained away as a way to raise employee awareness and assist them in staying healthy, the bottom line is that it also serves to keep all the cogs in the machinery functioning at optimum levels and keep those insurance premiums that companies are required to pay at a minimum.

Does anybody have a guess as to how long it will be before companies start refusing to hire people whose blood sugar, cholesterol, lung capacity or BMI measurements fall outside specified ranges, or who make remaining inside those ranges a condition of employment?

All of this was easily predictable by any science fiction writer worth his (or her) salt when the government first put employers in charge of their employee's health insurance, via the sainted Ted Kennedy-sponsored Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973. It's perhaps worth mentioning that this was the same legislation that created Health Maintenance Organizations and institutionalized the concept of "managed care," which is another term for letting insurance firms decide whether the treatment prescribed by your physician is appropriate (and appropriately priced) or not, and withhold payment if they decide otherwise.

Not surprisingly, the cost of healthcare went through the roof following the implementation of this micro-management of healthcare by the insurance industry (amazingly sold as a cost-reduction measure!) prompting the federal government to step in with a "fix" that has already doubled in cost in a little over two years, as we saw in the first paragraph.

As Milton Friedman once said, "If you put the Federal Govt in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand."

I'll repeat what I said a few weeks ago: We libertarians are the true pragmatists.

Have you got enough government yet? Or do you really want more?

...and that's all I have to say about that.

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