From Opal --
Refuting Congressman Dennis Kuchinich
During our hour with Congressman Kuchinich, he stated several “facts” about health care, which could and should be refuted.
According to him, and depending on what day or who you ask, health care is either one fifth or one seventh of the US GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Well, so what? If people are buying goods and services, and people are providing or selling goods and services, why is that suddenly “unsustainable”? That statement makes absolutely no sense. What he is really saying is that the government is currently paying out, from ADC, CHIPs programs, Medicare, and Medicaid, too much money. The Government cannot sustain its commitments. Working people buying insurance, doctors and hospitals providing services, people getting treatment is absolutely sustainable, if we have no government interference. And that is the truth.
What he is really saying is that there is a large pile of cash collected by the insurance companies that the government wants to grab, illegally, for themselves. By passing “health care reform” or “health care insurance reform” they will make laws giving them the legal power to destroy an entire industry and take free choice away from the people.
Buying and selling is a free market principal. It does not harm the government. It is only when the government decides it wants to give away something of value that the system gets distorted, perverted, abused, and broken.
Currently, our state government controls the number of insurance companies in Ohio. They control or license these companies and regulate them. Because they control the framework, insurance company competition is restricted and free market principals do not automatically eliminate waste, redundancy, or money spent on paper work.
Which brings me to:
The doctor Congressman Kucinich brought with him as his advisor said “People come to see the doctors every day. The doctors want to treat them but they cannot afford health insurance, and they cannot pay for the needed services. My secretary/nurse has to spend 1 hour on the telephone getting approval for a CAT scan. But the insurance executives make $14 million dollars and that is obscene.”
Now, let us dissect that sentence:
1) People come to see the doctors every day. The doctors want to treat them but they cannot afford health insurance, and they cannot pay for the needed services. Lots of people are not buying or getting health insurance because they cannot afford it.
Well this may be true. But it because the government allows employer provided health insurance to be tax deductible and does not allow self-paying insurance to be deductible the government is driving up the cost to the poor. It would be better if the government allowed all health care insurance to be tax deductible, for starters. And, in a free market, when you have many, many customers, you create tiers or levels of goods and services. Not everyone can have a Cadillac because they can’t afford it. Some people have to settle for the bus. Does this mean that government should force all the automakers to make only Cadillac’s and that everyone has a “right” to them? No. The services provided currently for the poor are free clinics. These are government paid free clinics. Metro Health has a free clinic. Medicaid is a free service paid for by federal and state tax dollars. Are the current options available to poor people adequate? That is the real question.
Jumping FROM a free market TO a government paid system seems to be very, hmm, lacking in innovation and stifling of creativity, which is one complaint rational, intelligent, and thoughtful people can make. It also doesn’t solve the problem because, if currently, the government cannot sustain its share of the cost of health care, why should we believe that it would be able to do so when there is no free market model upon which to hang itself upon? The insurance model is the skeleton and bones upon which Medicare anchors itself upon.
2) My secretary/nurse has to spend 1 hour on the telephone getting approval for a CAT scan.
This is the free market at work. Things need to get approved. Insurance companies have a contract with their customers about what they will provide and why and when. And sometimes, it takes some navigation to get the necessary approval. The big problem with this statement is that the doctor is hinting that doctors will have free reign to order tests for everyone once we get a single payer government system. Is he mad? Because nowhere can any logical or honest person say that they can and will add 47 MILLION people to the current system and have it work better. Does he want us to believe that once the government gets involved, everyone will get CAT scans?
The truth is that his office people will be waiting MONTHS to get the same approval that they got in minutes! This is the problem with blind utopianism. They point to a problem and think that it can be resolved with government but fail to see that government can’t and won’t regulate itself in the same way the free market will. If anything, Canada proves this with a system proving for 30 million people. The US has 10 times more people and it is not a leap of the imagination to believe we will have 10 times the waiting, 10 times the waste, 10 times the abuse, and 10 times the problems.
3) But the insurance executives make $14 million dollars and that is obscene.”
Brad Pitt, Mick Jagger, Michael Vic, Theresa Hines Kerry, Warren Buffet, and some insurance executive. What do all these people have in common? They make money. Lots of money. Tens of millions of dollars every year. Why is it obscene for a guy who runs a multi-billion dollar company to make money? Is it because the $$ seems out of proportion? Stephen King writes one book. Might take him six months. Does that mean he deserves millions of dollars. Heck, we don’t even know if he sweats while doing it. But why does this doctor, who makes a good amount of money himself, and who is not taking vows of service or poverty, want to create class envy? Why should the government, our government, which is made up of people, people like Nancy Pelosi, and Dick Durbin, and Dennis Kucinich, be the ones who decide that this person is making too much money?
If we allowed the free market to work, then big companies would have crashed. Executives would have been out on their cans. Some of them would have lost everything. It is only when government interferes that we have companies failing AND executives still getting big checks.
What is obscene and immortal is not adhering to 10th Commandment “Thou shall not covet.”
If it is the responsibility of the government to regulate the salaries of everyone, then what price do we put on music? What price per hour for an actor? And if the price per hour for goods and services is the same, then should a podiatrist make the same as a neurosurgeon?
The problem with the argument that people are poor, deserving, and innocent while insurance executives are undeserving, evil, and corrupt is obvious to anyone who frames the question. Sadly, Congressman Kucinich and his advisors are failing to see the obvious because they want to believe that their well meaning good intentions take precedence over reality.
The reality is that the man who makes $14 million dollars per year is providing a service. He keeps his company within the law, he is eliminating waste where it is found, and he is tailoring his product to keep it lean and profitable. And that is what they pay him to do. Just like, on any given Sunday in September, you are going to find a bunch of guys on a football field, and they get paid tens of millions of dollars per year to pay just 20 games (or less). Or, if you are LeBron James, you can get hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
So LeBron James makes hundreds of millions of dollars per year while poor people in Cleveland are not getting CAT scans. Do you see that one thing has nothing to do with the other? So why are they trying to make that argument?
A single payer universal system will eliminate waste.
Right. Because competition has no value. Competition and free market principals are self-regulating. In the free market, if one company is selling junk, word gets around and people stop buying. The seller goes out of business. When one company offers a great product/service, everyone wants to buy from them. They sell their product according to what the market will bear. If they charge too much, no one buys. If their product is good, and their price is right, people flock to them. But in a single payer system, no one knows what the market will bear, so there is no self-regulation. Junk becomes the norm. People make careers out of finding ways to corrupt the system, and they get away with it for generations because politics is inherently corrupt, especially Chicago politics.
Nowhere has government run systems proven to be better, more efficient, or more cost effective than the free market. NOWHERE. Not in the entire history of people and governments. Not even in the USSR, which was 100% socialist. Not in the much-envied country of France, which is waking up to the fact that their universal health care system is sucking all the money out of their economy.
When incentives, like profit, are removed, then the only incentive is fraud. How to scam the system becomes the Number One incentive. Then the business of government becomes more and more regulation. More laws. More restrictions. More stasis. Watchers watching the watchers. So every single dollar that doesn’t go to the profiteers, you know, those evil insurance companies, will go to some political hack or to some new government bureaucrat who is needed to control costs, or to some clever con man who is gaming the system.
Need examples? Let’s use the example President Obama used, Post Office vs. Fed Ex and UPS. The Post office is going broke, even though it has a monopoly on mail delivery while Fed Ex and UPS are making a profit. According to Dennis Kucinich, the answer is – get rid of Fed Ex and UPS because they are making the Post Office look bad.
The other side of the coin that Congressman Kucinich is not talking about is what happens when all the little private or religious charity non-profits or community hospitals no longer have many sources of income? What happens when only one entity is paying them? That is creating a gorilla welding a sledgehammer. Once a single payer system goes into effect, then the government and ONLY the government can decide who gets what and how it will work.
Currently, we have freedom of religion. Many Christian hospitals refuse to participate in terminating pregnancies and euthanasia. When the government controls all the rules and controls all the money, then caring people, like the Catholic Church, will not be pressed into providing for the poor. Government will stifle religion and religious freedom. This is just one aspect of a single payer system. Government will decide everything. And when government decides everything, there is no freedom, there is no creativity, there is no innovation, but there are only ugly and costly unintended consequences.
Congressman Kucinich says that he supports Medicare and the VA hospital systems. He thinks they are examples of good government and he approves of them.
If Congressman Kucinich believes the VA system works, then I propose that every member of the government become part of it. I propose that all Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, Presidents, and their spouses, and their staffs, and every federal employee, become covered by the VA system, and the VA system alone. Bet there would be plenty of improvements then. Suddenly, it wouldn’t be so attractive.
As to Medicare. Medicare is an example of government interference. When my husband turned 65 in January, our insurance company dropped him. Period. They refuse to insure him. They say that Medicare is primary. No discussion. We cannot even pay them to continue to cover him. And we are willing to do that. But we can’t. He must either sign up for Medicare or not get coverage. So much for “voluntary”. And once he signed up, Social Security demanded we make a pre-payment before they would start coverage. And they charged us more than the payment with the promise that we would “get it back” once his checks kicked in and payments would be taken out. In truth, we “got back” about 80% of it. The rest disappeared down the government money hole of calculating. Their math is not the same as math in the real world. Of course, we could spend days upon days filling our requests and forms and challenges but in the end, the time and aggravation factor wasn’t worth it when we knew we’d never see that money again.
Medicare works because some guy is making $14 millions dollars per year providing a good service to people who want and need health insurance. Medicare works because the free market system is able to come to terms with the hospitals over the value of a lab test. If the insurance companies truly did not pay, then the hospitals would not accept them as bargaining agents. Period. But the insurance companies and the health providers reach an agreement about the value of the goods and services. Once government comes in, and only government comes in, then the value of the goods and services will be determined by the government. And who is entitles to those goods and services and what their value is will not be regulated by supply/demand/profit, it will be regulated by cost and value.
So yes, we will not be able to work hard and create value for ourselves but we will have government assigning value to us. We will not be able to purchase better services but we will have government calculating how much is our value vs. the cost of the CAT scan or X-ray or Cardiac doctor. Today, if we have the money, we have services available for purchase. Once a single payer system goes into effect, there will be front door and back door services. Because people with money and power will always get better services. Congressman Kucinich, even Christ said, “The poor will always be with you”.
Does this mean that we should have the straw man argument that the choice is either the status quo or single payer? No. If the government showed a willingness to remove itself from its unsustainable course, we could and would have the brightest and the best bringing forward creative solutions. Single payer is not a creative solution. It is the knife that would kill the best health care system in the world.
This is just part one of a series on Why Congress Needs to Rethink the Health Care Debate.