Obama's Healthcare "Flexibility" Ruse

Posted: Feb 28, 2011 3:36 PM
I fleetingly touched on this point in a previous post, but it's important enough to merit its own item.  The MSM is reporting President Obama's newly articulated support for state-led alternatives to his healthcare law as if it's a major concession to post-partisan consensus.  It's nothing of the sort, as CATO's Michael Cannon incisively describes:

The New York Times reports:

Seeking to appease disgruntled governors, President Obama plans to announce on Monday that he supports amending the 2010 health care law to allow states to opt out of its most burdensome requirements three years earlier than currently permitted.

It's significant that the president is finally acknowledging that ObamaCare is unworkable and will impose enormous burdens on the states.  Or is he?

A closer look shows that the president is not lifting the burdensome requirements ObamaCare imposes on states.  All he's doing is proposing to move up, from 2017 to 2014, the date on which states can apply for federal permission to impose a different but equivalently or more coercive plan to expand health insurance coverage...

So states can "opt out" of ObamaCare's individual mandate if they cover as many people, with as many benefits, and as many government subsidies, as ObamaCare would.  The Times quotes "administration officials" on how states might do that:

The administration officials said the so-called state innovation waivers in the Wyden-Brown bill might allow a state to experiment with ways to entice people to obtain insurance rather than requiring them to buy policies. It also might allow interested states to establish a single-payer system in which the government is the sole insurer. Gov. Peter Shumlin, a newly elected Democrat in Vermont, is pursuing such a proposal.

No such state plan can make a dent in the federal laws that are fueling the relentless growth in the cost of health care (see Medicare, the federal tax treatment of health care, etc.).  Therefore, the only way that states could cover as many people as ObamaCare does is by using ObamaCare's tactic of forcing people to buy exorbitantly costly health insurance.  And if they're not going to use an individual mandate, the only remaining option is a single-payer health care system.

President Obama's move is not about giving states more flexibility.  It's about moving the nation even faster toward his ideal of a Canadian- or British-style single-payer health care system.

In other words, the president's pronouncement generously allows states to slide faster down the path toward a government administered, single-payer system -- which has been the Left's endgame from day one.   The media is along for this ride, compliantly touting the president's announcement as a grand gesture of moderate pragmatism, rather than the devious statist machination that it is.

UPDATESurprise, surprise -- White House officials are whispering to "liberal allies" that the president's historic concession to Republicans is actually designed to be a Trojan horse for the implementation of "public option" and single-payer systems:

...A source on a White House conference call with liberal allies this morning says the Administration is presenting it to Democrats as an opportunity to offer more expansive health care plans than the one Congress passed.

Health care advisers Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter stressed on the off-record call that the rule change would allow states to implement single-payer health care plans -- as Vermont seeks to -- and true government-run plans, like Connecticut's Sustinet. 

The source on the call summarizes the officials' point -- which is not one the Administration has sought to make publically -- as casting the new "flexibility" language as an opportunity to try more progressive, not less expansive, approaches on the state level.

The Obama Administration: Yanking an unwilling nation to the left, while demanding to be congratulated for its non-partisan pragmatism.  Don't be bamboozled.