Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Health Reform Bone to Pick

In my last blog, I mentiond that the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform plan (also called the Baucus Plan or Gang of Six Plan) would likely impose annual fees for on insurance companies ($6 billion), medical device makers ($4 billion), drug firms ($2.3 billion), and clinical laboratories ($750 million).

The rationale for these “fees” is a mystery, as well as how they were arrived at. Presumably they are a trade-off for the new customers, i.e., the more uninsured the plan would bring to market, or maybe they are an indirect slam at those “profit-making” entities as political villains and strawmen to be be struck down as targets for easy political victories.

These fees brought to mind an animal fable described by Thomas Sowell, a senior scholar at the Hoover Institute (“Fables for Adults,” September 15, Real Clear Politics).

Fables for Adults
By Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, as a small child, I was told one of those old-fashioned fables for children. It was about a dog with a bone in his mouth, who was walking on a log across a stream.

The dog looked down into the water and saw his reflection. He thought it was another dog with a bone in his mouth-- and it seemed to him that the other dog's bone was bigger than his. He decided that he was going to take the other dog's bone away and opened his mouth to attack. The result was that his own bone fell into the water and was lost.

At the time, I didn't like that story and wished they hadn't told it to me. But the passing years and decades have made me realize how important that story was, because it was not really about dogs but about people.

Today we are living in a time when the President of the United States is telling us that he is going to help us take that other dog's bone away-- and the end result is likely to be very much like what it was in that children's fable.

Whether we are supposed to take that bone away from the doctors, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies or the insurance companies, the net result is likely to be the same-- most of us will end up with worse medical care than we have available today. We will have opened our mouth and dropped a very big bone into the water.

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