Out of Control Policy Blog

Obama's Axis of Evil on Health Care

Oye Vey.

President Obama just doesn't get it. He has an op-ed in the New York Times this morning excoriating insurance companies for our allegedly crappy health care system, whose primary problem, btw, is no longer the large number of uninsured - but the crummy benefits those with the misfortune of having coverage get. That'll of course be news to the vast majority of patients who have repeatedly told pollsters that they are really quite satisfied -- thank-you, very much -- with their insurance plans. They are no doubts victims of false consciousness that the public option will have a way to cure!

There are too many internal contradictions in Obama's op-ed to get into here. But let me mention one very briefly: The administration has been claiming - and Rachel Maddow was regurgitating on Meet the Press just this morning -- that the public option, which is designed along the lines of Medicare, will keep insurance companies honest by forcing them to compete with the superior administrative efficiencies that Medicare offers. (Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute has debunked this laughable claim by pointing out that Medicare has bought these so-called "superior efficiencies" by, among other things, ignoring fraud). But the president's op-ed claims that he will pay for coverage for the millions of uninsured by "cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid." So which is it? Is Medicare so efficient that it should serve as a model for the rest of the industry or so inefficient that making it more efficient can fund health coverage for all?

But I digress.

The most striking thing about the president's op-ed is the startling similarity between his approach to health care and Bush's approach to foreign policy. Bush was always on the prowl for "evil-doers" abroad. And Obama, it seems, is on the prowl for "evil-doers" at home.  First, he targeted evil Republicans who were blocking his reform. That didn't work, because, as it turns out, Republicans are not the main impediment to his government power-grab; Blue Dog Democrats are. Second, he went after Big Pharma. But Big Pharma buckled down and cut a deal with him. And now - in a calculated attempt to rile up middle-class anxieties about their insurance coverage eg its lack of portability - he is going after those Big Bad Insurance Companies. Talk about the axis-of-evil!

But this won't work any better than his previous efforts at demonization. No matter how much Dems dismiss folks at townhalls as stooges of the insurance companies, they are expressing a real fear out there that Obama's government-heavy prescriptions won't solve their real health care problems; they will make them worse by taking away the options they already have. Going after their insurance carriers only heightens that fear - not allays it.

Obama seems to be finally backing off on the public option. That's good. Robert Gibbs said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the president "will be satisfied" if the private insurance market has "choice and competition." That would be really good - but only if Obama means what he is saying and starts examining government policies that have stymied more intense competition in the health insurance industry. These include all the laws that prohibit insurers from selling policies across state lines and the failure of Uncle Sam to give individuals buying coverage the same tax treatment that companies get.

But if he simply pushes more regulations and mandates such as "guaranteed issue" and "community rating" (the first forces insurance companies to sell coverage to everyone regardless of risk and the second tells what prices they can charge), he will drive many insurers out of business, producing more market concentration and less choice.

But the first thing he needs to do is drop his preoccupation with the enemy. It didn't serve Bush well. It is not serving him well. And it certainly won't serve the country well.

Shikha Dalmia is Senior Analyst

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Comments to "Obama's Axis of Evil on Health Care":

Nehemiah A. | August 17, 2009, 1:01am | #

The health care bill is the hottest issue now in the country. News has been buzzing about the op-ed piece, called New York Post Deadly Doctors. New York Post Deadly Doctors refers to an op-ed by Betsy McCaughhey, and she isn't in favor of Obamacare. The piece described a purported tenet of the public health care plan, which would create an allotment system that would deny care to the mentally disabled and the elderly. (This rumor hasn't been confirmed in the bill itself.) She also went on a tear about Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel's brother, and hasn't checked a lot of facts or cited the health care bill itself. Maybe she should have put some cash advances into researching New York Post Deadly Doctors instead of just quaking over nothing.

Nupek | August 17, 2009, 8:42am | #

health benefits offered by morning walk
The secret of longevity for a major section of people who are ‘ octogenarians ‘ – That is People who are in their eighties would be morning walk which was done for decades. People have nowadays gradually started realizing the importance of morning walk in shaping the health of human body. But still there are umpteen number of people who do not unwind themselves from their mechanical lives. Technological advancements have made life more simpler in all respects but we humans must also pay the price for it if we do not allocate time in our hectic schedule for some physical work like walking or visiting Gym’s. Around fifteen years ago, TV remotes were rarely found in houses and hence we used to walk at least for changing channels. But now ? Sitting hours together in front of the idiot box, continuously feeding the stomach with snacks or sweets, leading to obesity. If you question a doctor on the health benefits offered by walking he would give you a long lecture. Let us see some of the benefits.
1) It is a stress buster which instills a feeling of freshness to the body as well as mind.
2) blood circulation is promoted, reducing greatly the chances of high blood pressure.
3) Checks obesity by burning unnecessary calories of fat in the body.
4) It makes the joints more strong and hence people would be less susceptible to Orthopedic troubles associated with old age.
5) Chases away neck pain and back pains.
6) If you go walk in a park surrounded by trees, you will inhale more fresh air, containing higher concentration of oxygen, thereby bringing down breathing problems too.
7) Keeps sugar levels under control.

Michael | August 17, 2009, 10:59am | #

Our President is getting his first taste of going against the insurance industry, which is, make no mistake about it, a CARTEL, no longer the intended business model originally created to protect in an event of a loss, with their hands in all elections, all the time and process as much money as our government and in fact controls many public policies. Currently, what the insurance industry wants, the industry gets. They feel that no one is too big for them. With profits paramount, currently running health care as well as auto collision repair in there unsuccessfully dysfunctional way with no one to challenge them, as well as crushing free enterprise with their referral systems. When US States successfully created affordable government run workman’s comp insurance for business, the system currently works extremely well, with government achieving a much higher level of service at half the cost, but not surprisingly the insurance industry attempts to abolish the program every legislation cycle. They complain about being in competition with the government, but have no regard to health care patients well being, care facilities or the collision repair stores they our putting out of business daily by pushing all the patients or damaged autos through locations they own or have interest in, aggressively via referral systems. Insures are in competition with all businesses they pay claims to. From health care to auto repair. The insurance industry is currently a competitor to businesses and crushes whom they feel like, with no Federal Trade Commissions stopping them. The insurance industry controls the largest majority of claims service rendered. Free competition is long gone but seriously needs to be restored. I believe government should not just challenge the insurance industry, but to do its job and control them. I wish a leader to challenge the cartel, not give in to greed, and win. Mr. Obama, please don’t give up. The insurance industry can and should be restored back into its intended purpose. The insurance industry currently has more money than local governments and is right behind the federal government with regards to cash flow. They have hand placed policy makers in all levels of our government, federally and local. This presents serious threats to our government and should be investigated by the Federal Trades Commission, FBI and the CIA to ensure the stability of our government.
Politics 101 is to tell the public what they want them to think. The “public support for Obamas plan” articles are noting short of insurance lobbyists getting to work to win.

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