Sunday, August 2, 2009

Astonish Us in the Morning!

Astonish me in the morning!

Tyrone Guthrie, 1900-1971, theatrical director to his actors after rehearsal

For the last two years, during the presidential campaign and the first 7 months of his presidency, Barack Obama and his team have given a rehearsal of what he plans to do for health reform – government centered care.

This strategy doesn’t seem to be working too well if you go by the mounting resistance of Americans, as evidenced by the polls indicating more than 50% disapproval of his handling of health care, and by the massive lobbying campaign ($263 million spend in the 2nd quarter of 2009) by the health care industry.

What Would Astonish Me

What would astonish me would be if I were to pick up a copy of the New York Times in the morning to read this headline,” President Obama Decides to Give Consumer-Driven Health Care a Try: Resistance to Government Control Too Strong.”

The article would say that the American economy is still 70% driven by consumers, and only 30% by government, that the stimulus package has done little to help the economy unemployment and that federal deficit has tripled.

It would say that Congress is listening to the Director of the Management Budget, Douglas Elmendorf, who says Obama proposals will “raise" the budget curve rather than bending it "down,” and that given current projectionss, taxes on the middle class are inevitable.


I’m fantasizing, of course. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much material by conservatives like John Goodman of the National Center of Policy Analysis, Greg Scandlen of the Consumers for Health Care Choice, Grace Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, or Regina Herzlinger, Professor of Harvard Business School and author of Consumer-Driven Health Care: Implications for Providers, Payers, and Policymakers (Jossey Bass, 2004).

Or perhaps I’m relying too much on interviews in my book, Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform (IUnivese.2009). The book gives examples of successful consumer-driven innovations, such as worksite clinics and health savings accounts with high deductible plans.

Or maybe I take too seriously people like Mark Steyn in a July 30 National Review Online Column, who wrote,

“ Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks — drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.

Government health care would be wrong even if it ‘controlled costs.’ It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.”

Or maybe I read too much in what Peter Clinch of Silver Spring, Maryland, has to say in the August 2 New York Times Sunday Magazine in letter to the editor in response to a previous week’s piece,”Why We Must Ration Health Care."

“Health care, like all finite resources, is rationed today and will be rationed tomorrow. The question is: who should doo the rationing? In a society that respects life and freedom, that task is best left to the marketplace of individuals making decisions for themselves, which is why health reform should focus on decentralizing health insurance, not socializing it.

Americans should be able to make decisions for themselves as to how much of their resources today they want to set aside for insurance that they may need in the future. To surrender our freedom and dignity to power-hungry central planners in exchange for lofty Utopina promises is an act that will mark us for generations to come as well-meaning but misguided fools.”

In event I‘m unlikely to be astonished. I realized my fantasy when I read that the National Taxpayers Union's comment that the Democratic House Bill, H.R. 3200 reports.

• The House bill has the word "require" and its derivatives 494 times.

• It uses "report" 427 times, "limit" 167 times, "penalty" 156, "regulation" 91 times.

• By contrast, the words "marketplace" and "competition" are used 3 times each.

Obama and the Democrats, in other words, have their ideological blinders on. This tunnel vision leaves no room for a consumer-driven market-based health care as a cost-saving alternative. It’s government control, or nothing. Nothing astonishing about that considering the source. Words matter. They reflect the inner workings of Democratic minds, set upon maintaining political power through citizen dependency.

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