The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Carol Platt Liebau

11/10/2009 3:21:27 PM - Carol Platt Liebau
The NY Times today covers the "cost containment" debate raging among Democrats divided into what Sheryl Gay Stolberg describes as "idealists" vs. "pragmatists."  What they are offering Americans is a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The "pragmatists," apparently, include people like Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emmanuel.  They don't really care how much the bill costs -- or what it does to our economy long-term -- so long as a bill passes.  That's because they know that an entitlement -- even an economically crippling one -- is almost impossible to repeal once it is passed into law.  And once it's there, the debate comes down to the "evil" Republicans trying to take benefits away vs. the kindly Democrats trying to increase them.  Think of the way Democrats have demagogued Social Security for years, and you'll see what I mean.

No less unattractive are the "idealists" who are trying to find ways to cut costs in this health care freedom grab.  They include Dr. Ezekial Emmanuel (a proponent of health care rationing) and some of their ideas, as described by Stolberg, are as follows:

There are a variety of ideas for attacking cost increases more aggressively, including setting Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals more rigorously and discouraging workers and employers from buying expensive health insurance policies that mask the true costs of treatment.

Among other innovations being considered is a cost-cutting method known as bundling, in which health providers receive a lump sum to care for a patient with a particular medical condition, say, diabetes or heart disease.

So, in other words, some of the ideas being considered are: Maybe the government just won't pay doctors and hospitals as much for treating you (wonder what that will do to the ready availability of health care, after the hospitals close and the doctors quit?).  Or maybe you'll be forbidden to buy the health care plan that you believe best meets your family's needs.

Or just maybe the government will "give" a certain amount of money to treat you, and when it runs out . . . well, that's it for you. B-bye.

What Democrats are offering people is a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.  Either the US slides into permanent European-style social democracy, with high unemployment, slow growth and high taxes because there is an unsustainable level of health care spending -- or you lose your freedom when it comes to health care.  Or,  most likely, both.

UGLY.