Healthcare Never Never Land – Bob Barr’s Atlanta Journal Constitution Article

In “Sicko,” iconoclastic filmmaker Michael Moore extols the virtue of health care in such liberal “paradises” as the United Kingdom and Cuba. Leaving his audience to wonder where he would choose to go for treatment if he were facing a life-threatening illness — the People’s Hospital in Havana or the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. — Moore exhibits the same Alice-in-Wonderland delusion that has settled over the Obama administration.

A majority of members of Congress, too, seem to believe that if only enough bureaucracy and taxpayer dollars are thrown at the health care “crisis,” then everyone in the country will have their every medical need met, when they want it, and at much reduced cost. Such a mind set turns Peter Pan’s Never Never Land into a reality show.

For starters, advocates of the House legislation might want to talk to governors of those states, like Massachusetts, that have already implemented “universal” coverage plans. Increasing program costs, coupled with decreased state revenues as a result of the economic downturn, are causing serious fiscal problems and are forcing those states to consider cutbacks in coverage.

However, witnessing the irrational, “gotta-do-this-now” push in our nation’s capitol to pass comprehensive health care “reform” within the next few weeks, it is obvious the proponents of Obama-care are not interested in anyone throwing the cold water of fiscal reality on their parade.

The House version of the legislation, unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week, includes substantial mandates on American businesses (including a severe, 8 percent payroll tax on any business that fails to offer health insurance coverage to its employees). Still, the Pollyannaish Pelosi claimed (with a straight face) it would “lower costs to businesses.” This is government logic at its finest — you lower the cost of doing business by raising taxes on those businesses.

Pelosi’s obvious inability to grasp even the most basic of economic concepts was further displayed when she claimed that the “costs to consumers,” too, would be lowered. Apparently, this would be accomplished by placing a new surtax on those American consumers whose income exceeded the levels deemed worthy by the legislators.

Analysts of the 1,000-plus page legislation calculate its 10-year cost to exceed $1 trillion. Other experts fear such a figure greatly underestimates its true cost. Even the Congressional Budget Office calculates that the government subsidy for health care coverage will amount to some $6,000 per person within the next decade, which figures to more than $1.8 trillion.

Pelosi’s bill would also create a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Such a scenario, of course, is never a fair “competition,” because the government “owner” can always print money, spend borrowed money indefinitely, operate without regard for cost-benefit analysis, and threaten legal sanctions for those who fail to comply. None of these remedies are available to businesses (except, of course, for the “new” General Motors).

The smoke-and-mirrors approach is evident also in the fact that high-income taxpayers, who would already be taxed in order to pay for the “universal” coverage for their less-well-off compatriots, would face escalating taxes if the government fails in the years ahead to achieve targeted “savings” in Medicaid and Medicare. In other words, the government will set “savings targets,” but if it fails to meet them, it is taxpayers who will pay the penalty, not those members of Congress or federal bureaucrats who decide how much to spend on the entitlement programs.

Other industries, including pharmaceuticals, will face increased taxes as well, in order to pay for this “reform.” The more successful drug makers will pay a higher percentage tax than their smaller, less successful colleagues. Once again, success in the business arena is punished in the government arena.

Truly, this bill is a monstrosity.

6 thoughts on “Healthcare Never Never Land – Bob Barr’s Atlanta Journal Constitution Article

  1. Deran

    I agree; the Obama half-n-half plan is rubbish. Until the profit is taken out of health care we will always have a crappy irrationaly rationedd health system in the United States. A simple single-payer, medicare for all type of public system is the only thing that will bring the US up from having one of the worse care and most inefficient systems in the developed world.

  2. paulie

    Until the profit is taken out of health care

    On the provider side too?

    we will always have a crappy irrationaly rationedd health system in the United States.

    Central planning is incapable of rational rationing due to the calculation problem pointed out by Mises.

    A simple single-payer, medicare for all type of public system is the only thing that will bring the US up from having one of the worse care and most inefficient systems in the developed world.

    Medicare isn’t exactly a good model of either care or efficiency.

    As Roderick Long writes at,

    The contrast between, say, the Canadian and American approaches is frequently described – by both sides – as a contrast between a “governmental” or “socialised” system on the one hand, and a “market-based” or “free enterprise” system on the other. But the American health care system bears little resemblance to a free market; instead it represents massive government intervention on behalf of private special interests, from insurance companies to the medical establishment. The choice between the American and Canadian models is simply a choice between different two different flavours of statism – each with somewhat different vices, it’s true (e.g., do you prefer higher prices or longer waits?), but ultimately coming down to a matter of the percentage to which control of your healthcare is exercised by people sitting in government offices as opposed to being exercised by people sitting in governmentally-privileged “private” offices – but in either case by ambitious, avaricious apparatchiks who aren’t you.

    So what would a libertarian approach to health care policy look like? At a minimum it would have to include:

    1. Repealing laws that have the effect of cartelising the medical industry (e.g., the licensure monopoly granted to the A.M.A.), thus artificially boosting the cost of medical care.

    2. Repealing laws that have the effect of rendering the labour market oligopsonistic, thus artificially lowering people’s ability to pay for (and collectively negotiate for) medical care.

    3. Repealing laws that shift healthcare funds from the 25%-devoured-by-overhead voluntary sector to the 75%-devoured-by-overhead coercive sector, thus decreasing the amount of healthcare that gets to needy recipients.

    4. Repealing laws that transfer the power to make medical decisions for individuals from those individuals to centralised bodies, thus increasing the impact and scope of fatally bad decisions and suppressing the competitive signals that allow the identification of better and worse policies.

    5. Repealing laws that wiped out the old mutual-insurance systems (basically HMOs run by the patients instead of by corporations) and empowered insurance companies at the expense of patients.

    6. Repealing laws that suppress innovation and distribution in the pharmaceutical industry in the name of “intellectual property.”

    Until the unlikely day when the Republican Party embraces this program, let’s hear no more of their favouring a free-market approach to health care.

    (See original for embedded links and additional context).

    Also, see

    for how we got where we are now.

  3. John C

    I hope anyone who thinks Medicare for all ( or for any) is a good thing would put down the crack pipe.

  4. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 2 Deran do you expect the doctors to work for free?

    And by the way M.D.s make far more money here in the U.S. than they do in Europe and U.S. docs have seen their income out pace that of the general public in the last twenty years, as I recall the numbers.


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