Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Healthcare: Reform it, Not Repeal it

John R. Houk
© March 31, 2010

I have noted in the past I am the rare and near non-existent Conservative that believes in some form of universal healthcare. As a Conservative though, I believe Obamacare is the first level of the Marxist socialization of America.

I just finished reading an awesome post by Judge Bob concerning his disapproval of not only Obamacare but also all or any forms of universal healthcare. The post is an excellent argument for a Liberty conscious Capitalist insurance/healthcare reform. The meaning being providing purely market driven solutions to reform that uses competition to keep insurance premiums down.

There was a time that I would absolutely agree with Judge Bob. The history of my health has modified my outlook on the reliance on purist Capitalism as a solution for all things needing fixed in America.

Judge Bob includes in his post an excerpt from Imprimis published by Hillsdale College which goes like this:

(1) Today's business-government partnership or "crony capitalism" model, in which bureaucratized insurance companies monopolize the field in most states;

(2) the progressive model promoted by the Obama administration and congressional leaders, in which federal bureaucracies tell us which services are allowed, and

(3) the model consistent with our Constitution, in which health care providers compete in a free and transparent market, and in which individual consumers are in control.

The models of healthcare reform can roughly be summarized as:

    1. The Capitalist/Government cooperation in healthcare model.

    2. The Leftist-Obamacare model of pseudo-socialism leading to outright socialism.

    3. The purist Capitalist model relying solely on markets and profits.

Model 2 is a path that will destroy America’s Judeo-Christian culture as well as diluting or eliminating the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. That is unacceptable in my book.

Model 3’s description in the Imprimis article is awesome but I believe is in the realm of Slanted Right utopianism. By “utopianism” I mean a good idea that I believe is impossible to implement in American politics.

As you have guessed I lean to Model 1 described as “business-government partnership or crony capitalism”. For the business-government partnership to work effectively with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness of the Founding Fathers still the foundation of our nation; Slanted Right impetus must be the managing tool. If a business-government partnership is managed by Leftists then model 2 will eventually evolve with the same outcome of model 2. Leftist management of a business-government partnership will indeed lead to crony Capitalism in which business complies to government designs. This is the kind of socialism espoused by one of the most heinous regimes in world history. This was the one-party government political system known as National Socialism but better known as Nazism. Under Nazism the State did not own corporations yet all means of production was for the sole benefit of the State.

Nazism does not employ the Marxist illusion that the people or the proletariat is the government. Rather Nazism is a form of socialism in which the people are collectivized to serve the State and its leader.

If the Left attempts to manage Capitalism the goal in mind might be the Marxist utopia; however for any kind of market business to survive in a socialist model it would have to be more akin the Nazi Corporate State.

If the Slanted Right manages healthcare/insurance reform in concert with business it is more likely that competitive markets will be in mind with certain aspects like affordability and the elimination the reprehensible practice of not insuring pre-existing medical conditions being regulated.

With my two-cents worth of thoughts, READ Judge Bob’s post entitled, “You Need to Know, Part One”.

JRH 3/31/10
You Need to Know Pt. 1

Judge Bob
Mar 28, 2010 at 11:09 PM
Judge Right


This article begins a series designed to bring you information and instruction you need to act on now to redirect the American trajectory toward greater liberty and away from the natural inclination of governments to sink into ever greater regulation and control. Gianna personally requested I post an article which could help her, her friends and family prepare for the coming fallout from the abolition of American exceptionalism and government absorption of another 1/6 of our economy for a total of approximately 1/2 of all U.S. production now in radical leftist/liberal (those with the idea that they must overcome the awkward limitations of the constitution to create a tight community to live really equally) control via the health care reform package laws. All 1500+ pages of it. She has inspired me to do a short series because we don't yet have to accept this legislation but its going to take a lot of work to turn it around from here. Subsequent articles will deal with what we can do to prepare if the legislation is allowed to stand. But let's not give up on the U.S. yet. As with the New Deal, we have recovered from devastating regulation and tax law before, and we can do it again.

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 127:1

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
they labor in vain who build it.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain."

In application to these circumstances, one always begins with prayer and request for guidance from the Spirit rather than men. This is not to say that you cannot find wisdom with some men, but that you should exercise your judgment to recognize wisdom. A mentor is good to find, even having found one, the judicious disciple will continue to exercise discernment for the best mentor among men is still a man and thus fallible and prone to err. Let the Spirit be your primary Guide.

To start out with, educate yourself. Everyone needs to get a very easy education. Read the Constitution. Read the Bill of Rights. Read the Preamble. Read the Declaration of Independence. Read the Federalist Papers. Do your best to memorize them and keep a little copy of them with you at all times for those discussions you'll inevitably find yourself in with your peers. If a lot of you have this information memorized, others will feel they must at least give it a serious look rather than appear more ignorant than their debating counterparts, and can then decide for themselves whether Congress and the President or the Supreme Court are acting outside the bounds of their authority. By the way, these used to be taught in our schools as basic grade school education. The more people understand how this legislation undermines these founding works, the more likely this economy killing legislation can be turned around within 3 years. You can go further and link, subscribe to, or favorite sites like Hoover Institute, Hillsdale College, Cato Institute, Liberty Pen, Prager University, ACT for America, FORA TV, Wallbuilders, PJTV, etc., but start with the founders' documents and from there, you're equipped to go get involved with your local Tea Party demonstrations and answer advocates of bad policy with authoritative knowledge. Its not too late to stop this administration's colossal damage to our economy or our rights in liberty rather than a legislative perversion in the form of nanny security which cannot help but return a net loss in both security and liberty as well as personal opportunity for wealth. You and I are the ultimate guardians of the Constitution of the United States of America. It is critical that we understand this and begin acting like it matters to us.

If one understands the necessity to engage their second stage thinking before advocating any policy, one understands the great harm most policies have on our culture because most legislation is produced for the purpose of behavioral control. "What happens if this policy is implemented?" "What happens if that regulation is repealed?" All federal policies are inherently a question of good vs. best national intentions because all policy must be sold to the American people. We are after all, a nation of people power. Our original purpose as stated by the founders is definitively laid out. "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union--establish a government by the people, for the people." We are a nation formed on the impetus of eliminating governmental abuses. As such, we are responsible for governing ourselves primarily. That is, we must be 'self' disciplined to act with integrity in our personal behavior and that carries over onto our national behavior. And we are responsible to ensure our representatives are representing our informed communal desires rather than their own political or personal interests seeded and sold on the power of ignorance.

Recent events and some not so recent, display a people disinterested in their government or their governance. The most recent events are changing that rapidly. But it will mean nothing or rather, it will mean a violent revolution unless you are each educated enough to make a difference among a lot of ignorant citizens, ie. your neighbors, your family, your friends, etc., This does not mean you have to get a constitutional law degree, it just means know what the Constitution says and make sure every bad policy idea which stands against it is exposed for its direct effect on your personal liberty and rights. Whatever affects you personally also affects the investors and employers who grow our economy and spread their wealth by means of production and reward. Don't let any advocate of a bad policy get away with making bad policy sound good. The liberty to work and travel and speak, and the right to keep what you earn, and move up the social ladder with success or down with failure and loss, these create the environment for economic growth and success.. One is rewarded for successfully serving others and one is not rewarded by unsuccessfully serving others and therefor losing market share. These are what the founders envisioned and what they handed us to keep and maintain. This is the environment that produced the greatest economic and inventive engine of all time. Ask the medical professionals of any socialist society and they will dutifully inform you that America provides the vast majority of medical advancement in both procedures and medicines even with the burdensome and deadly regulations of the FDA. Socialized medicine has little funding allocated to research and implementation.

Socialism was formed on the impetus of equalizing the wealth of all national citizens, but second stage thinking looks at the results of each work in history and asks, "which is best, which is sustainable, which is going to give the best and bring out the best for the most people?" The good 'intention' of equalizing wealth is not and cannot be the best policy because (a) incentive to produce is created by desire for rewards and that incentive is destroyed when the rewards are stolen and further removed when the producers' rewards are then passed out to non-producers, (b) someone is charged with making wealth equal and that person, though they may be smart, may be perfectly benevolent and well intentioned -- can not know beyond their own, even 1% of any one individual's needs much less have the knowledge or capability to meet the needs of 300,000,000 people with equality and justice. Aside from that fact, a perfectly benevolent authority will shortly be replaced by an abusive one. Those who would claim to be equipped for such a responsibility demonstrate a copious and profound lack of understanding with regard to our need to reward sacrifice and risk sufficiently to motivate producers and risk takers to further production and service. In the best scenario, the individual knows their own needs far more expertly and have the freedom to pursue them rather than do social engineering experts. The level of each individual's comfort or willing acceptance of their circumstances motivates him to production of wealth and the reward brings a return motivation to greater achievement and greater comfort and better circumstances, or they do enough to maintain the status quo or sometimes refuse to serve others in any way regardless of reward or loss.

The end of the investigation into forms of government and goals of government, changes the question from, "What is best and what is good?" to "What is right and what is wrong?" The politicians who sell equivalent reward cannot help but know they are not equipped for such a task. Rather they have to be seeking a means to control behavior rather than wealth. This is about power, not about equalization, not about helping the poor and downtrodden. It is a means to an end, but the end is hidden behind the veneer of philanthropy and if we are ignorant enough to buy that sales pitch, we will know a net loss of security, liberty, and wealth. I have oft stated, real philanthropy is personal and local. I give, but I only give when I know the gift will not further the ill behaviors which in many cases (not all) have brought the person or family to their lowly circumstance. If I give to a philanthropic organization, I see to it the organization handles my gifts with accountability to do the same. Governmental philanthropy has little to no accountability and its history reveals the most abused form philanthropy has ever taken with little to no real regard to the effects those policies generate.

So, politicians must sell their agenda to the people in order to have public support and maintain their seats of power through elections. Some of that people power has been subverted by jerrymandering districts to be partisan and therefor safe for the incumbent politicians and by purchasing popular support in the form of ever more entitlement programs. One of these districts was recently lost to the Democrats due to their ever decreasing popularity via the extreme left takeover of their party by radicals successfully planting radical policy without popular support. Said lost 'safe' seat was occupied by career politician Ted Kennedy until his recent demise and the subsequent election shocked Democrats when left leaning Republican Scott Brown was elected instead of their candidate, another extreme left radical, Martha Coakley. With the advent of the Tea Party (which consists largely of conservative Republicans, Libertarians, independents and disenchanted 'moderate' Democrats) and the subsequent attempts by all the left wing extremist powers to besmirch their character and message, uninterested and too busy citizens are sitting up and taking notice. The Tea Parties' simple message is uniform across all those political demographics. "Stop spending America into oblivion!" Many like Gianna are ready to wade into the action and go about the hard work of setting things back to a reasonable pace in our march toward socialism. My position is, "WE HAVE TO SET THEM BACK TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY." This can be accomplished by a radical outcry by all parties interested in putting government in its rightful place with the Enumerated Powers Act.

I have subscribed to the monthly Imprimis publication produced by Hillsdale College. This is one of the few academic institutions left in America in which I can hold any respect. In light of the recent health care reform package passing through both houses of Congress and the POTUS via partisan politics of the worst sort, I wanted to bring a little more clarity to the topic. This issue was from February 2010 - Volume 39, Number 2.

Entitled [Health Care in a Free Society]

The publications are usually somewhat of a transcription of a guest speaker's speech. This guest speaker is Paul Ryan. He is serving in his sixth term as a member of Congress, representing Wisconsin's First Congressional District. He is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee and a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. A graduate of Miami University in Ohio, he and his wife Janna have three children and live in Janesville, Wisconsin.

This speech was delivered on January 13, 2010, in Washington, D.C., at an event sponsored by Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.

Speech begins:

[Someone once said that before there was the New Deal, there was the Wisconsin Deal. In my home state, the University of Wisconsin was an early hotbed of progressivism, whose goal was to reorder society along lines other than those of the Constitution. The best known Wisconsin progressive in American politics was Robert LaFollette. "Fighting Bob," as he was called, was a Republican -- as was Theodore Roosevelt, another early progressive. Today we tend to associate progressivism mostly with Democrats, and trace it back to Woodrow Wilson. But it had its roots in both parties.

The social and political programs of the progressives came in on two great waves: the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s. Today, President Obama often invokes progressivism and hopes to generate its third great wave of public policy. In thinking about what this would mean, we need look no farther than the health care reform program he is promoting along with the leadership in Congress.

Let me say here at the beginning that even though survey after survey shows that 75 percent or more of Americans are satisfied with the quality of their health care, no one I know in Congress denies that health care reform is needed. Everyone understands that health care in our country has grown needlessly expensive, and that some who want coverage cannot afford it. The ongoing debate over health care, then, is not about whether there should be reform; it is about what the principle of that reform ought to be.

Under the terms of our Constitution, every individual has a right to care for their health, just as they have a right to eat. These rights are integral to our natural right to life -- and it is government's chief purpose to secure our natural rights. But the right to care for one's health does not imply that government must provide health care, any more than our right to eat, in order to live, requires government to own the farms and raise the crops.

Government's constitutional obligations in regard to protecting such rights are normally met by establishing the conditions for free markets -- markets which historically provide an abundance of goods and services, at an affordable cost, for the largest number. When free markets seem to be failing to meet this goal -- and I would argue that the delivery of health care today is an example of where this is the case -- government, rather than seeking to supply the need itself, should look to see if its own interventions are the root of the problem, and should make adjustments to unleash competition and choice.

With good reason, the Constitution left the administration of public health -- like that of most public good -- decentralized. If there is any doubt that control of health care services should not have been placed in the federal government, we need only look at the history of Medicare and Medicaid -- a history in which fraud has proliferated despite all efforts to stop it and failure to control costs has become a national nightmare. In 1966 the cost of Medicare to the taxpayers was about $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that it would cost $12 billion (adjusted for inflation) by 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was nearly nine times that -- $107 billion. By 2009 Medicare costs reached $427 billion, with Medicaid boosting that by an additional $255 billion. And this doesn't take into account the Medicaid expansion in last year's "stimulus."

The health care reform bills that emerged from the House and the Senate late last year would only exacerbate this crisis. The federal takeover of health care that those bills represent would subsume approximately one-sixth of our national economy. Combined with spending at all levels, government would then control about 50 percent of total national production.

The good news is that we have a choice. there are three basic models for health care delivery that are available to us: (1) today's business-government partnership or "crony capitalism" model, in which bureaucratized insurance companies monopolize the field in most states; (2) the progressive model promoted by the Obama administration and congressional leaders, in which federal bureaucracies tell us which services are allowed, and (3) the model consistent with our Constitution, in which health care providers compete in a free and transparent market, and in which individual consumers are in control.

We are urged today -- out of compassion -- to support the progressive model; but placing control of health care in the hands of government bureaucrats is not compassionate. Bureaucrats don't make decisions about health care according to personal need or preference; they ration resources according to a dollar-driven social calculus. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the administration's point people on health care, advocates what he calls a "whole life system" --a system in which government makes treatment decisions for individuals using a statistical formula based on average life expectancy and "social usefulness." In keeping with this, the plans that recently emerged from Congress have a Medicare board of unelected "specialists" whose job it would be to determine the program's treatment protocols as a method of limiting costs.

President Obama said in December: "If we don't pass [this health care reform legislation]...the federal government will go bankrupt, because Medicare and Medicaid are on a trajectory that are [sic] unsustainable..." On first hearing, this argument appears ludicrous: We must stop the nation from going broke by enacting a program costing $800 billion or more in its first decade alone? On the other hand, if the President means what he says, there is only one way to achieve his stated goal under the new program; through deep and comprehensive government rationing of health care.

The idea that the government should make decisions about how long people should live and who should be denied care is something that Americans find repugnant. As is true of the supply of every service or product, the supply of health care is finite. But it is a mistake to conclude that government should ration it, rather than allowing individuals to order their needs and allocate their resources among competing options. Those who are sick, special needs patients, and seniors are the ones who will be most at risk when the government involves itself in these difficult choices--as government must, once it takes upon itself management of health care.

The very idea of government-run health care conflicts with the American idea of a free society and the constitutional principals underlying it--the principles of individual rights and free markets. And from a practical perspective it makes no sense, given that our current health care system is the best in the world--even drawing patients from other advanced countries that have suffered by adopting the government-run model.

But if one begins with the idea that health care reform to reduce costs should be guided by the principles of economic and political liberty, what would such reform look like? Four changes to the current system come immediately to mind.

One, we should equalize the tax treatment of people paying for health care by ending the current discrimination against those who don't get health insurance from their jobs--in other words, everyone paying for health care should receive the same tax benefits.

Two, we need high-risk insurance pools in the states so that those with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage that is not prohibitively expensive, and so that costs in non-high-risk pools are stabilized. To see the value of this, consider a pool of 200 people in which six have pre-existing heart disease or cancer. Rates for everyone will be through the roof. But if the six are placed in a high-risk pool and ensured coverage at an affordable rate, the risk profile of the larger pool is stabilized and coverage for the remaining 194 people is driven down.

Three, we need to unlock existing health care monopolies by letting people purchase health insurance across state lines--just as they do care insurance and other goods and services. This is a simple and obvious way to reduce costs.

Four, we need to establish transparency in terms of costs and quality of health care. In Milwaukee, an MRI can cost between $400 and $4,000, and a bypass surgery between $4,700 and $100,000. Unless the consumer is able to compare prices and quality of services--and unless he has an incentive to base choices on that information, a he does in purchasing other goods and services--there is not really a free market. It would go along way to solve our health care problems to recreate one.

These four measures would empower consumers and force providers--insurers, doctors, and hospitals--insurers, doctors, and hospitals--to compete against each other for business. This works in other sectors of our economy, and it will work with health care.

So why can't we agree on them? The answer is that the current health care debate is not really about how we can most effectively bring down costs. It is a debate less about policy than about ideology. It is a debate over whether we should reform health care in a way compatible with our Constitution and our free society, or whether we should abandon our free market economic model for a full-fledged European-style social welfare state. This, I believe, is the true goal of those promoting government-run health care.

If we go down this path, creating entitlement after entitlement and promising benefits that can never be delivered, America will become like the European Union; a welfare state where most people pay few or not taxes while becoming dependent on government benefits; where tax reduction is impossible because more people have a stake in welfare than in producing wealth; where high unemployment is a way of life and the spirit of risk-taking is smothered by webs of regulation.

America today is not as far from this tipping point as we might think. While exact and precise measures cannot be made, there are estimates that in 2004, 20 percent of households in the U.S. were receiving about 75 percent to their income from the federal government, and that another 20 percent of households were receiving nearly 40 percent. All in all, about 60 percent of American households were receiving more government benefits and services, measured in dollars, than they were paying back in taxes. It has also been estimated that President Obama's first budget alone raises this level of "net dependency" to 70 percent.

Looked at in this way, I see health care reform of the kind promoted by the Obama administration and congressional leaders as part of a crusade against the American idea. This is a dramatic charge, but the only alternative is that they are ignorant of the consequences of their proposed programs. The national health care exchange created by their legislation, together with its massive subsidies for middle-income earners, would represent the greatest expansion of the welfare state in our country in a generation--and possibly in history. According to recent analysis, the plan would provide subsidies that average a little less than 20 percent of the income of people earning up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. in other words, as many as 110 million Americans could claim this new entitlement within a few years of its implementation. In addition to the immediate massive increase in dependency this would bring on, the structure of the subsidies--whereby they fade out as income rises--would impose a marginal tax penalty that would act as a disincentive to work, increasing dependency even more.

And before I conclude, allow me to clear up a misperception about insurance exchanges; it makes absolutely no difference whether we have 50 state exchanges rather than a federal exchange, as long as the federal government is where the subsidies for consumers will be located. In other words, despite what some seem to believe, both the House and the Senate versions of health care reform set up a system in which, if your are eligible and you want a break on your insurance premium, it is the federal government that will provide it while telling you what kind of insurance you have to buy. In this sense, the idea of state exchanges instead of a federal exchange is a distinction without a difference.
Speech ends

* * *

Further commentary by the publication's editor;

Americans take pride in self government, which entails providing for their own well-being and the well-being of their families in a free society. In exchange for this, the promoters of government-run health care would make them passive subjects, dependent on handouts and far more concerned about security than liberty. At the heart of the conflict over health care reform, as I said at the beginning, are tow incompatible understandings of America; one is based on the principles of progressivism, and would place more and more aspects of our lives under the administration of unelected "experts" in federal bureaucracies; the other sees America as a society of free individuals under a Constitution that severely limits what the federal government can rightfully do.

We have seen many times over the past 100 years that the American people tend to be resistant to the progressive view of how we should reform our system of government--and I believe we are seeing this again today. Americans retain the Founders' view that a government that seeks to go beyond its high but limited constitutional role of securing equal rights and establishing free markets is not progressive at all in the literal sense of that word--rather it is reactionary. Such a government seeks to privilege some Americans at the expense of others--which is precisely what the American Revolution was fought to prevent.

Americans understand that the problems facing our health care system today, real as they are, can be addressed without nationalizing one-sixth of the American economy and moving us past the tipping point toward a European-style social welfare state. They know that we can solve these problems while at the same time remaining a free society and acting consistently with the principles that have made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. It is our duty now as their representatives to come together and do so.] Douglas A. Jeffrey

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College. Subscription free upon request. 1 (800) 437-2268

ISSN 0277-8432

This video was mentioned on the same publication and in general curiosity, I dug it up and was supremely pleased to find a powerful commentary on the vision Hillsdale has carried since their separation from government subsidies and mandates. It is a powerful recitation of the Constitutional design and purpose as well as an expos'e of the Obama administration's stated, pointed opposition to that purpose.

"Education, Self-Government and Our Current Crisis" (Lecture by Larry P. Arnn)

Now since the bill has been forced upon us, though the majority yelled and screamed at Congress and the President to stop this, some things need to be addressed. First, it does not matter that the federal government did not take on a public option. The regulations on the insurance industry will drive the insurance industry into the ground and government will then 'have' to take on not only a public option, but universal health care. (again, their stated goal) Second, subsidized health care plans necessarily result in rationed care and the model is Medicare and Medicaide which are already bankrupt and rationed. Third, Medicare and Medicaide are being absorbed into the new expanded plan based on those failed models but boosted by a mass tax expansion which will not begin paying on its promises until 4 years from the tax initiating. That's how they projected a balanced budget 10 year plan. Even so, the Congressional Budgetary Office estimates vast cost over-runs within ten years.

The crux of the problem is, not one of those elected officials are going to be in office or accountable when this program's fruit is revealed 10, 15 or 20 years down the road, meanwhile the next generation will have already accepted this radical departing from the American vision and ideal set forth by the founders. The older representatives will have died or retired and the younger ones don't have the 'safe' seats so will likely be the first to suffer the blowback against the radical policy implementation. The effects of this legislation on our economy will have set our economic recovery back decades with business owners and investors vacating the American industrial complex or sinking into uncompetitive decline due to cheaper operating costs by competitors abroad. The job market will have greatly declined and the average American citizen will have become, (a) more dependent on government and (b) less productive and (c) less inclined to risk wealth and energy investment to start his own small business. Government's revenue stream will steadily decline with the declining market strength and increasing need, therefore government's ability to meet the debt promises to foreign debt holders or national entitlements (health care, unemployment insurance, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaide, etc.,) means these entitlements will be continually declining in allotment. In other words, you supporters will know a net loss of health care provision by government and since government now controls it all, the entire health care industry. Doctors and pre-med students have pledged to quit, to seek another line of work, ergo fewer health care providers. Hospitals are presently struggling to keep their doors open, with the added regulation and limiting of charges many will have no option but to close up. Again, the end result of centralizing power, wealth and knowledge always results in net losses for the whole society.

next article: save and buy

Healthcare: Reform it, Not Repeal it
John R. Houk
© March 31, 2010
You Need to Know Pt. 1
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