At a Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) town hall event in Philadelphia August 2, the crowd didn’t seem to be buying their presentation. Rush Limbaugh commented on this today, suggesting that this may discourage future town-hall-type events on this topic, and pointing out that Philadelphia is not exactly red-state conservative, but is predominantly union member country.
This event brings up several questions which have not been, in my view, satisfactorily answered:
1. Why is this so urgent that it can’t wait for more debate and discussion? If this is to take effect in 2013, why the big rush now? Can’t some time be devoted to examining these proposals?
2. Why is this government takeover the only approach to be considered?
3. Why should members of Congress ever be asked to vote on bills they have had little or no opportunity to read, and in some cases, bills that haven’t even been written yet? This is extremely offensive to any kind of democratic government, that our elected “representatives” would be willing to consider such a thing. A member who votes for a bill, having not read it or understood it, should not be in public office. Period.
4. If our officials know that about 80% of voters are satisfied with their current coverage, and don’t want to lose it, but know they would under Obamacare, why is the Administration and Congress trying to force this upon them?
5. If Medicare and Social Security are in financial peril, and Medicaid not doing so well either, why multiply this red ink millions of times over?
6. Why are we being told that we must provide coverage for 50 million more people, when probably no more than 10 million actually want or need help?
Obama’s popularity is fading fast, and he’s in a race to get his signature plan approved. But people are catching on to the deceptive tactics and massive danger involved. As Milton Friedman said, “The government’s solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” That has probably never been more applicable than in this matter.
If their interest is really in providing health insurance coverage to needy people, there are several ways to do so without this immense destruction that’s being proposed.
1. Instead of job-destroying tax increases, offer tax incentives to employers who provide health care coverage to their employees.
2. Increase, not decrease, tax deductibility of medical expenses. Don’t ever tax health care benefits.
3. Encourage higher-deductible and catastrophic coverage for people who don’t need insurance coverage for routine doctor visits, etc.
4. Provide tax incentives to insurance companies (gasp!) for offering coverage for pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, it’s poor management for insurance companies to, as they say, “buy claims.” Nor is it equitable to force them to provide such coverage without compensation.
5. Don’t chase insurance companies out of Medicare. They’re a cost savings to the government in administering plans.
6. Encourage substantial tort reform to limit damage awards in malpractice actions.
7. Stop trying to manage everyone’s business or putting everyone into some bureaucratic pigeonhole for health insurance coverage.
Plus, there have been a number of excellent suggestions, but since some came from Republicans, they aren’t as likely to be considered.
I think the audience response at the Philadelphia town hall is likely to be repeated numerous times if there are any more opportunities. I hope someone in Washington, D.C. is paying attention. If not, they may be unemployed after their next election campaign.