When people make statements that are completely at variance with reality and they continue to repeat them and you know they are not crazy, it’s only natural to wonder, what’s going on?
I’ve concluded that for some people on the left, political beliefs are like a false religion in which the parishioners become unable to distinguish myth from reality.
How else can you explain the statements of Donald Berwick, President Obama’s recess appointee to run Medicare and Medicaid, on his way out of office the other day? For starters, he claimed that the Affordable Care Act (what some people call ObamaCare) “is making health care a basic human right.” Then he went on to say that because of the new law, “we are a nation headed for justice, for fairness and justice in access to care.”
Now I can’t claim to have read everything in the 2,700-page law, but I can assure you that “making health care a right” just isn’t in there. Nor is there anything in the new law that makes the role of government more “just” or “fair.”
To the contrary, a lot of knowledgeable people (not just conservative critics) are predicting that access to care is going to be more difficult for our most vulnerable populations. That appears to have been the experience in Massachusetts, which Obama cites as the model for the new federal reforms. It’s not that Massachusetts tried and failed to expand access to care. It didn’t even try.
True enough, Massachusetts cut the number of uninsured in that state in half through Governor Romney’s health reform. But it didn’t create any new doctors. The state expanded the demand for care, but it did nothing to expand supply. More people than ever are trying to get care, but because there was no increase in medical services, it has become more difficult than ever to actually see a doctor.
And far from fair, the new federal health law will give some people health insurance subsidies that are as much as $20,000 more than the subsidies available to other people at the same level of income. In fact, the new system of health insurance subsidies is about as arbitrary as it can be.
Berwick isn’t alone in making bizarre statements about health reform. Right after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, administration health advisors Robert Kocher, Ezekiel Emanuel and Nancy-Ann DeParle announced that the new health reform law “guarantees access to health care for all Americans.”
John C. Goodman is President of the Goodman Institute and a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts.”