Health Care Endgame Is the Same Regardless of Obamacare's Fate

Steve Deace

3/24/2012 12:01:00 AM - Steve Deace

This week marked the two-year anniversary of Obamacare, and while I share my fellow patriots’ desire to see Obamneycare repealed before it loosens the last latch on Pandora’s Box, that dream coming true still doesn’t save America from its looming healthcare nightmare.

Over the past 20 years of debate the Republicans have steadily lost ground to Democrats in the healthcare debate, with President George W. Bush’s massive expansion of the welfare state known as Medicare Part D the most egregious self-inflicted wound. Because Republicans failed to implement any substantive free market healthcare reforms other than health savings accounts, this nation is likely headed to the same healthcare endgame regardless of Obamneycare’s ultimate fate.

The good news is that the healthcare endgame will never be a true, out in the open European-style government-run single-payer healthcare system, because the American people will never put up with it. Both times the Democrats actually took steps to implement one they have been punitively punished by voters in the very next election cycle because of it (1994 and 2010).

The bad news is what’s coming instead might as well be a single payer system.

Once the ultimate fate of Obamneycare is determined, the wheels will immediately go into motion to produce another terrible public-private partnership. The chance to effectively monopolize a product every American needs almost as much as oxygen and water means there’s simply too much money at stake for the corporatists and the statists to restrain themselves.

With the help of the crony capitalists in the Republican Party, and the Western Europe wannabes in the Democrat Party, a new scheme will be forged that gives both the biggest health insurance providers in America as well as the federal government a practical monopoly on the healthcare industry.

Those of you think that the private health insurance providers won’t go along with this are fooling yourselves, and living in the past. Haven’t you noticed there hasn’t been nearly the public outcry from the industry towards Obamneycare the past few years that there was aimed at Hillarycare in the 1990s?

That’s because in the past generation maximizing profit as a business model for major corporations has been replaced by minimizing risk. Thus, the chance for the biggest health insurance providers to effectively cut off any real competition means that while one of them won’t be number one, none of them have to worry about being number none. The biggest health insurance providers in the country will each be granted exclusive proprietary rights on a regional basis by the federal government. Which means just like most Americans have one option for their home energy use, so will they have one option for their health insurance.

Your health insurance provider will operate much like a public utility, with the federal government determining what gets covered and for how much. Who knows, maybe some Republicans will even announce a glorious compromise that allows state governments to have some say as well. Either way, the government, not the free market, is going to determine the rates and the benefits.

And considering how much regulation of this industry we already have regardless of Republican or Democrat control, it’s not nearly as big of a leap as you think.

In the end, the politicians in both parties will sanctimoniously claim they saved the world’s greatest healthcare system from collapse. Of course, there will be a remnant of salt-of-the-earth patriots who still believe in the Constitution and liberty on Capitol Hill that will fight this. But like always the Republicrat Machine will eventually roll them because the American healthcare system is “too big to fail.”

Since you’ll still be dealing with your private health insurance provider for billing and customer service, the establishment Republicans will boast to their base they saved us from becoming Western Europe. But since the government is going to determine who gets what and how much, the Democrats will boast to theirs how they made sure every American is insured.

However, no matter what sleight of hand they attempt to fool you with, when you have one option for health insurance and one entity determining what the insurance covers and costs, without competition you essentially have exactly that which the American people rejected in the 2010 election cycle.

In other words, we’re all going to be on a different form Medicare.

On my syndicated radio show this week I asked Grace Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, one of the leading conservative healthcare think tanks in the country, if my hypothesis was far-fetched.

She not only said it wasn’t far-fetched, but agreed with me that barring a rapid resurgence in free market solutions it’s the most likely outcome. Turner further noted that one of the consequences of Romneycare in Massachusetts – the predecessor to Obamacare – was the loss of health insurance competition, with only a few companies big enough to survive the Romneycare overhaul. The law of supply and demand always means less competition/options and more regulation always equals higher costs, which is exactly what Romneycare has created in Massachusetts.

Higher rates, no competition, and you’re selling a product every American has to have? What business isn’t going to sign up for that? This is exactly why you’ll see health insurance providers offering Congress their business plans just as the automakers did after Obama’s election.

If Romney is the Republican nominee for president, regardless of whether he or Obama wins this fall this will be the outcome of healthcare in America. All we’re doing now is negotiating the terms of surrender depending on whether or not Obamacare is repealed or the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. If Obamacare is repealed or rolled back, Republicans will have the leverage to be able to negotiate more state government involvement. If Obamacare stands as is the negotiating leverage for total federal regulation then tilts towards the Democrats.

When you stop and look at recent history, what I am suggesting isn’t radical but the norm. On a national level, the Republican Party has been largely devoid of free market reformist thinking since the mid-1990s, and it’s obvious if pro-TARP/pro-stimulus Romney – the man who attacked Rick Perry for telling the truth about social security – is the next GOP standard-bearer he will just be the next decay manager.

We’ve seen this movie before, it’s called “Surrender Now Before It’s Too Late,” and it always ends the same. The Democrats propose putting the Constitution through the paper shredder, and the Republicans rally to regulate how much of it ends up in tatters. Heaven forbid national Republican leadership actually defends our constitutional republic for a change. Remember when they started the first session after their 2010 election victories by reading the Constitution word-for-word?

Neither do they.

Maybe that’s why my state’s Republican Senator Charles Grassley – a living, breathing testimony to the need for term limits – originally was negotiating with the Obama Administration for a seat at the Obamneycare table before conservatives back home called him out on it. Grassley is the Methuselah of the GOP, so he’s played this game before and knows how it ends.

Since the state he represents is home to some of the biggest health insurance companies in the country, he knows it’s best to get your seat at the table now to guarantee your cut of the proceeds.