One of the more pernicious myths surrounding the debate over health care is the oft repeated claim that conservatives do not want reform. Nonsense! What we do not want is the warm bucket of snake oil currently being sold to the American people by this administration. Conservatives have long argued for the need to reduce mandated benefits, reduce the reliance on third-party payers and get rid of public policies that hinder entrepreneurship and innovation. This is the kind of reform conservatives want – the right kind of reform.
Because the number of Americans that are actually denied medical care is zero, the administration has chosen to cite the fact that 47 million Americans lack medical insurance (another myth) as the reason for its urgency in passing a huge bill that congressmen can’t be bothered to read. Just yesterday the administration and its army of sales people began to talk about health insurance reform; this after years of hearing about the need to reform healthcare. Ahh! The power of focus groups. Now we need single-payer universal healthcare to bring down costs (prices) and to protect the sick from “discrimination” at the hands of evil insurance companies.
So the cause of our national distress is the private health insurance industry, which no doubt explains why A) Obama has made back room deals with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and B) why the bill making its way through the House of Representatives devotes exactly 6 of its more than 1000 pages to insurance reform.
Conservatives of course have long pointed to the over-reliance on insurance companies and other third party payers as one of the major causes of the increase in healthcare costs. It is worth remembering that the largest insurer in the nation is the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid. And how’s that working out?
A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that about half of the increase in health expenditures nationwide since 1965 was caused by the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Why? One reason is that under the government programs prices are not the result of contracts between providers and patients. Instead, prices are set between providers and the U.S. Government. In practice, this means the U.S. government says what's covered and what the price is (regardless of the actual cost), and providers and patients have no choice in the matter.