Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let this Patient Die

Some people want to ‘reform’ Obamacare, not repeal it. Now that we know what’s in it, can’t we remove what we don’t like and keep the good parts?
A plan so deeply rooted in misperception, centralized planning, misinformation, mono-partisanship and political bullying, passed in the Senate in the wee hours of Christmas Eve 2009, is not salvageable. Medicare and RomneyCare at least had the virtue of being bipartisan efforts. But Obamacare was passed without a single Republican vote. 83% of physicians in the U.S. are opposed to it, to the point of retreating from their practices, opting out of Medicare, decreasing office hours or even quitting while they are ahead. The general public began to have buyer’s remorse almost immediately after passage, and that sentiment has only grown stronger since. As of the end of 2012, 54% of Americans were opposed to universal coverage, the idea that it is the government’s job to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage. The law is so unpopular that the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) withheld publishing its rules for how states and doctors will be required to comply with the law (13,000 pages and counting) until after the 2012 election was safely over. If the law is so warm and fuzzy, why did Louisiana and other states have to file a Freedom of Information Act request just to ‘find out what’s in it’? Former supporters of the bill are openly expressing astonishment at the destruction they see happening around them, like the physician who writes “Medicare made the rules and now punishes doctors for following them”.
To fix what’s wrong with medical care in America, we need REAL health insurance along with liberty, voluntary cooperation, free markets, the price system and the virtues of the free people of America. A true health insurance market thriving under free-market competition will provide the greatest range of choices possible to all of us, including today’s uninsured. Such a market needs freedom and competition; not over-regulation, rationing and penalties; not a government takeover. Individuals, families and physicians should be the ones in charge; not the federal Department of Health and Human Services and committees that can’t be recalled by voters.
The Hippocratic oath, taken by physicians for over two thousand years, pledges: “First, do no harm”. America needs reform, but not just any reform. We cannot rush into top-down, government-directed economics out of an irresistible urge just to ‘do something’, convinced that “it can’t possibly get any worse”. It can always get worse. It is worse in almost every other country and is already getting worse here under Obamacare. Constructive reform has to be based on an accurate assessment of the circumstances and on sound economic principles.
Reversing Obamacare won’t be easy this late in the game. The Administration and die-hard supporters of the law aren’t standing down for a gentleman-general’s winter camp; to the contrary, they are armed with virtually unlimited resources and mobilized to put down any trace of rebellion. The element of surprise won’t be found in a frontal attack on an A.C.A. stronghold, like (metaphorically) George Washington’s ambush of the Hessians at Trenton. It will come, rather, from all of the former and fair-weather supporters who never expected that the rising costs, rationing, shortages, loss of liberty, restriction of choices and deteriorating quality would fall so heavily upon them personally.
But reverse it we must, because living under this law’s regime will be much dearer still than the cost of fighting it to the bitter end. The death panel rationing committee of the American citizenry has determined that this patient’s life is not worth the cost of prolonging. It’s time to pull the plug on Obamacare.

This article was adapted from the forthcoming book 'Pull the Plug on Obamacare', coming March 1 2013. Visit the Obamacare page for more information.

More Health care reform resources on the Obamacare page.