Dear Mr. President, What Does ‘Health Reform’ Mean?

Amy Menefee
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Posted: Jun 05, 2009 4:10 PM
Dear Mr. President, What Does ‘Health Reform’ Mean?

President Obama needs our urgent support, he says, because he wants to pass healthcare reform this year. Apparently it’s so urgent that he’s reversing the positions that got him elected.

Candidate Obama, who ruthlessly attacked Candidate McCain for proposing to tax health benefits “for the first time in history” – when McCain was actually offering a tax credit – is now President Obama, who is suddenly “open to” taxing our health benefits.

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Candidate Obama, who vowed he didn’t want an individual mandate for purchasing health insurance, as his Democratic primary opponent Candidate Clinton did, is now President Obama, who “could support” mandates on individual Americans.

The president told Senate leaders in a letter this week that he is still committed to the “principle that if [Americans] like the coverage they have now, they can keep it.” This sounds good, and it’s politically smart because 70 percent of insured Americans are happy with their coverage, according to a Rasmussen poll.

But Obama has done a 180-degree turn on his other principles, and there’s no reason to believe this one will stand.

In fact, the policies he now supports are guaranteed to bring change to our health insurance.

It’s all about more government: a government health insurance plan, government mandates that every person buy insurance or face a penalty, and government putting new burdens on employers.

On the campaign trail, Obama said instead of making individuals purchase insurance, he’d force businesses to do it for their employees.

That doesn’t work any more in this economy. Americans have seen the shape our employers are in, and we’re not dense enough to believe that what happens to our employers doesn’t affect us. Just ask anyone who’s been laid off this year.

It seems everything businesses do is going to end up getting paid for by us taxpayers anyway. First it was the banks, now it’s the auto companies, and the health care industry will be next.

The president says he “strongly believes” we need a government health insurance plan – most likely free to those with low incomes and cheaper than private insurance for the rest of us.

For most rational people, free or cheaper health insurance would be hard to resist. Employers in particular would gladly offload their workers onto a government plan. Quickly, cash-strapped private insurance companies would start going under, and insurance executives would be hopping in their jets to ask Washington for a bailout.

And they wouldn’t be the only ones. We’d also have to bail out doctors, nurses, and every other health care professional who can’t stay in business on what the government pays them.

Medicare is a warning. Fewer doctors are accepting new Medicare patients, because the plan often doesn’t even cover the price of care – and it adds the extra red tape of dealing with a federal bureaucracy.

Obama also supports a health insurance “exchange,” which at first glance seems less extreme. Unfortunately, it has the same outcome: government control of health insurance and shrinking options for patients.

The exchange is supposed to be like a mall, but there would be requirements for the policies sold there. The federal government would decide which companies stay and what kinds of policies they could offer. And how much they cost. And which illnesses they cover.

Before you know it, what was supposed to expand patients’ options has streamlined all insurance policies to fit a national government standard. All our “choices” would look the same.

The president is begging his network of campaign supporters to rally for health reform starting June 6. Just a few days earlier, he finally gave them the first clues about what they’ll be rallying for.

They’ll be rallying to force every American to buy a government-approved insurance policy or pay a fine if they don’t – something a majority of Americans oppose. Rasmussen reported that 56 percent of Americans “say that if someone doesn’t want to buy insurance, they shouldn't have to.”

They’ll be rallying for everyone who has health insurance through his or her job to pay a big new chunk of taxes.

They’ll be rallying to turn over the choices about their health coverage to bureaucrats.

At least now we know what President Obama wants.