The President's Health Care Scare Tactics Exposed

I’m calling YOU out, Mr. President. How dare you arrogantly assert that it’s your way or the highway? That Cook County – Chicago trick doesn’t work in the rest of our great country.

You railed against what you called scare tactics and misinformation. Yet you then proceeded to misinform your audience with your own false assertions. Let’s review a few:

First you decried the so-called Death Panels. While that term has certainly been used, the real concern is that you want to pay doctors to discuss end-of-life options. Currently, doctors decide when to counsel patients as part of their overall care. Now you want to pay them to specifically tell older folks how to die? That’s just downright scary. You even promote a booklet for veterans which tells them how to die. Since when is this ANY of the government’s business?

During all the time you campaigned for President as well as since you were elected, you and your minions have repeated the number ”47 million” as representing the uninsured in this country. Suddenly last night, you changed that number to 30 million. Did we suddenly use government funds to insure 17 million folks yesterday? Did 17 million Americans suddenly get religion and buy health insurance on their own accord? No, Mr. President, you were simply forced to acknowledge that at least 17 million uninsured people currently inside the United States are illegal aliens and you had already promised not to give them any benefits. Yet you continue to give them benefits. To wit:

The law mandates that any person seeking medical services at a hospital may not be turned-away because they have neither insurance nor money with which to pay for those services. Doesn’t that mean that EVERYONE is automatically medically insured? Don’t we taxpayers already pay for the so-called uninsured? So what’s the problem? From our point of view, the problem is that we do not choose to pay and pay and pay for people who are too lazy to care for themselves. We’re most charitable to occasionally help those folks who find themselves upside down. We’re not interested in providing perpetual welfare.

You insisted that not a single dime of extra money would be spent to provide this health care for all. You even said it with a “straight face.” Yet your own CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has clearly opined that this is NOT true. Your program would be out of money by the 8th year and that the subsequent decade would create still more severe cost overruns. Question: How do you cover additional millions with the same number (or less) of doctors and nurses without spending one dime or causing rationing?

In this matter of costs, you insisted that the entire program would be paid-for by savings you intend to achieve by making Medicare more efficient and by cutting the fraud and abuse in the system. If this savings is so obvious to you now, why wait? Why not IMMEDIATELY implement the improvements? Why, if this is so obvious to you, would you wait to correct such an obvious problem? Isn’t this what government is supposed to do automatically? Why does the elimination of fraud and abuse have to be conditional on passing government-run health care? As a petulant child, you refuse to do your job unless you get your quid pro quo?

You insist that a government option/co-op will be a small part of the overall health care system. Yet, one provision of the proposed bill states that a business will be fined 8% of payroll if they refuse to comply. Health insurance premiums typically exceed 8%, so if I’m a small business, my decision is simple. I quit paying more and simply pay the smaller government fine. Yet that decision ultimately results in putting government involvement in health care at close to 100%. You insist, however, that your goal is not to control health care. Who’s kidding whom?

Somehow, government is going to correct all the ills that private industry has created. Let’s take a peek at how the government has done in the past. Thanks to David Galland of Casey Research, I herewith submit his brief analysis:

“A Quick History Lesson

“The U.S. Post Service was established in 1775. So they’ve had 234 years to make it work. It is broke.

“Social Security was established in 1935. They’ve had 74 years to make it work. It is broke.

“Fannie Mae was established in 1938. They’ve had 71 years to make it work. It is broke.

“Freddie Mac was established in 1970. They’ve had 39 years to make it work. It is broke.

“The War on Poverty started in 1964. They’ve had 45 years to make it work. About $1 trillion of taxpayer money is confiscated each year and transferred to “the poor.” It hasn’t worked.

“Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. They’ve had 44 years to make it work. They are both broke.

“AMTRAK was established in 1970. They’ve had 39 years to make it work. Last year it had to be bailed out and today continues running at a loss.

“$700 billion bailout of 2008. It has yet to create a single new private-sector job.

“Cash for Clunkers in 2009 went broke after 80% of the cars purchased turned out to be produced by foreign companies.”

But… This time it’s different. This time the government will do a really good job. This time, government will make it work. This time, government will be efficient and make health care better and affordable. This time, government will stop the fraud and abuse that is typically inherent in all government programs. This time…

Still another objection you raised insisted that scare tactics have frightened folks. All the talk about rationing simply isn’t so, according to you. Yet all a person has to do is observe where people from around the world go when they need health care. Why do Canadians fly to the USA for medical treatment for which they must pay when they can get free health care in Canada? Could it be because of the long waiting periods that plague every medical procedure in Canada? Ditto England. Hmm. Why do Sheiks from the Arab countries come to the USA for their medical treatment? They have all the money they need to get medical treatment in their own country. Oh, the medical treatment just doesn’t exist in their country. Wonder why?

If you want to really talk about “scare tactics,” let’s consider the bailouts. Somehow it was absolutely necessary for your administration to pass all the Wall Street bailouts immediately or we’d have runaway unemployment. If passed, you promised unemployment would not exceed 8%. Gee, where did the latest 9.7% unemployment figure come from? Ditto health care. We just had to pass your government controlled health care by last July; then August; now September. Or? And why do you conveniently fail to acknowledge that the health care plan you’re trying to ram-through today will not become effective until 2013? If it’s so important, why must it be passed now but held in abeyance until 2013? But that’s not “scare tactics,” is it Mr. President?

One of the reasons current medical costs are so high in the USA is the threat of lawsuits for malpractice. Doctors feel obliged to request all sorts of expensive but otherwise unnecessary tests just so they can’t later be charged with malpractice by ambulance-chasing attorneys. I didn’t hear you say anything substantive about Tort Reform last night, Mr. President. Oh, I forgot. The legal lobby makes large contributions.

You also said last night that you had an open mind and would consider alternative plans. I’m here to call your bluff. Here is a far better solution than involving government in the very personal and private decisions (which I submit is the very reason you won’t consider this alternative). Put people in charge of their own health care and payment for their health care services.

Suppose every individual takes control of his/her medical costs and treatments. Instead of an HMO or the government deciding what costs they will pay, the folks would decide directly. This system already exists in the form of Medical Savings Plans, MSPs. You get immediate treatment and the doctor gets immediate payment. No forms to send to the HMO or Medicare nor a wait for months to then get reimbursed. The funds set aside for this purpose would be treated as tax-exempt thus encouraging everyone to participate. Cash and carry works.

That is not to say that insurance no-longer has a place in medical protection. In today’s market, those with insurance have what I call band-aide insurance. The programs pay for almost every minor problem. Financially, this is a very poor use of limited funds. The MSP savings would cover these types of expenses in the future and would be unique to each individual/family. Serious medical expenses would still be covered by what is called “Major Medical.” Once an illness exceeded some specified amount such as $25,000, the Major-Med would kick-in and cover the rest. This would provide the so-called bankruptcy protection feature. Major Med is- and has been available for decades, and it’s very affordable. The issuing insurance company knows that it will not have to pay anything until the costs exceed the stipulated amount. Therefore, the premium is amazingly small. That, I submit, is the correct use of insurance – any insurance.

But wait, you say. “I don’t know enough about medicine to be able to make my own decisions.” Then I suggest you learn. And the very, very sad fact is that very few in the medical profession “know” either, but that’s a topic for another article. Suffice it to say that when competence is demanded by the customer, the medicos that survive the scrutiny will become the best choices for medical services. No one is instant-smart and there will be a learning curve, but the effort will be well worth time allocated.

Recently, I read an in-depth article describing the treatments and costs-of-treatments between the cities of McAllen, TX and El Paso. The McAllen costs were virtually double those of El Paso yet the patient (read customer) results were almost identical. If the results were comparable, why spend twice the money for the same results? Again I submit that government mandated single-payer programs will double the costs even though they initially claim they will reduce costs. Can you say Post Office? Can you say Medicare? Can you say any government program in competition with a privately-run program?

Every article I write seems to be based on having to refute the claim that capitalism has failed. Private medicine has “failed” so now big government has to step-in and make it work is the basic message now being promoted. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I continue to maintain, we’ve never even had pure capitalism so how would we know whether or not it’s failed? Big government has had their sticky hands in every facet of our lives with rules upon restrictions upon laws upon mandates that contradict common sense. I would argue that no one has a higher interest in your health and wellbeing than you, no matter how sincerely others try. That being the case, why don’t you just trust your instincts and take charge of your health? Just say NO to Government Health Care.

Let me be perfectly clear: Health care is NOT a right and government has absolutely no business getting involved. You can pander to the voters, Mr. President, but you can’t justify that position to rational, thinking people.

Tex Norton

September 11, 2009

The Daily Reckoning