Waving the White Flag of Surrender

On June 14th, my local Santa Clarita newspaper, The Signal, published a column by Steve Lunetta entitled “In search of elusive compromise”, in which he tries to rationalize his support for government-run healthcare by claiming that “compromises” could be made that would make it more palatable to conservatives.

Early in his column Lunetta rattles his electoral saber:

“Even if the Republican AHCA is signed into law, four years later, if the Democrats control Congress (and current trends say they will), the AHCA will be swept aside for yet another program.”

Back in October “current trends” at the time were solidly showing that the Pantsuit Woman was going to be President. Look how that turned out.

There’s an old joke that goes like this: What’s a camel? It’s a horse built by a committee. The point being that “compromise” isn’t always a solution to an issue. In fact, it’s often vastly overrated, especially when you’re talking about core principles.

What if the Founders had tried to find a “compromise” with King George? Look how well Chamberlain’s “compromise” with Hitler turned out. There’s the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which ended with a little dispute called the Civil War.

The plain fact is that some differences are so fundamental that there’s no compromise possible.

Once again Lunetta’s trying to rationalize his support for socialized medicine. This time he’s taken a couple of the proposals that I and others like me have made – medical tort reform and the removal of state barriers to product sales – and proposed that there be some “compromise” to modify them to fit into the mold of socialized medicine, completely ignoring the fact that those proposals are made to provide a stark alternative to having the government involved in health care at all. That wouldn’t be a compromise on the part of free-market advocates; agreeing to such a proposal would amount to waving the white flag of abject surrender. It would render those proposals moot and meaningless.

On top of all of that, we have the historical record which clearly shows that over the past half century at least, any ground the left gains through “compromise” doesn’t end the debate on an issue. It merely becomes the starting point for their next set of demands. It’s slow suicide by conservatives and Republicans.

The final truth is that what he’s trying to do is very akin to trying to be a little bit pregnant. In reality, you either are or you ain’t. Steve supports government-run healthcare, which is socialized medicine, whether or not he wants to admit it. I, and people like me, don’t. It’s that simple and fundamental.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Published on 21 June 2017 on my blog and in The Signal)

“Single-Payer” Healthcare? You Mean Like the VA?

VA

On May 24th The Signal published a column by Steve Lunetta entitled “Health care free market an abject failure” (Link), and I have to take great issue with much of what Steve wrote.

He claims that “All attempts to create a ‘free market’ in health care have failed here in the United States.”

What “attempts”? How can they have “failed” when there haven’t been any to begin with? Oh, there used to be a free market in health care, but it was so long ago that at 68 years of age I can barely remember it. The only thing that’s been “attempted” in the last five decades or so has been to exert ever more government control and regulation of that market segment.

In all the anecdotal “evidence” Steve presents in the column, one glaring element simply leaps out at me: he had an HMO, which he described as a “blessing”, and HE made the decision  to switch to a PPO, from which all his described problems arise.

If his organization is like the ones I worked for, as an employee I had a choice between either a PPO or an HMO. Didn’t he? Even if he didn’t, he certainly wasn’t forced by his employer to participate in their PPO program. So it seems to me that his problems with his health insurance provider are actually due to his own lack of due diligence, and his own decision to participate in a PPO that doesn’t meet his perceived needs.

His lack of due diligence is also illustrated by his example of allowing visits by a doctor without asking first what his own charges would be for that doctor’s services. Why would anyone do that? That’s a question I ALWAYS ask when a medical service or procedure is being contemplated.

The next problem here is that the insurance companies aren’t “making a mountain of money” as he claims. In fact, under the current structure, many are facing serious financial problems, and are withdrawing from many markets. Further in many jurisdictions, this state being one of them, insurance profits are limited by law.

Then the ultimate sin: proposing “single-payer”, which means government-run health care. You want to see how well that will work out? Take a look at the VA system for your answer. Now imagine that being the national norm.

How about we actually try some REAL free-market health care for a change? For years I’ve promoted three steps to reforming the system:

1.  Eliminate the artificial Barriers to interstate competition for health care and insurance products. Let real competition begin.

2.  Streamline the FDA approval process, which will significantly lower the cost of bringing new meds and procedures to market.

3.  Reform the medical tort system, which will lessen the costs involved in, and perceived need for, practicing “defensive medicine”.

Let’s do those three things, see how well they work, and only then see what else might be done to improve things.

Lastly, we as a society have to get away from the idea that there’s some magic bullet that will indemnify us from the vicissitudes of life. Some people are healthy until the day they drop dead; some are chronically ill for decades. That’s just the way things are. It’s no different from anything else. Some people have investments that make them rich; some people go bankrupt. Life isn’t “fair”.

But no one ever said it would be.

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Published 1 June at my blog and in The Signal)