Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What hath Congress wrought?

The Wall Street Journal yesterday on the ramifications of the government's Health Care Heist:
This week's votes don't end our health-care debates. By making medical care a subsidiary of Washington, they guarantee such debates will never end. And by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next—to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care. They are now the rulers of American medicine.
Good point. A lot of people have been blathering on about how this was just like Medicare and Social Security, except, well, it's not. These pieces of legislation passed with bipartisan support, and therefore it was in the interest of both parties that they succeed--or be seen as succeeding. Not so Obamacare. It is no in the political interest of one of the two major parties that it be seen as a failure and no danger that it will be seen as responsible for it. This can't bode well for the legislation.
While the subsidies don't start until 2014, many of the new taxes and insurance mandates will take effect within six months. The first result will be turmoil in the insurance industry, as small insurers in particular find it impossible to make money under the new rules. A wave of consolidation is likely, and so are higher premiums as insurers absorb the cost of new benefits and the mandate to take all comers.
So there goes affordability. And there there is the matter of Bart Stupak:
We have never understood why pro-lifers consider abortion funding more morally significant than the rationing of care for cancer patients or at the end of life that will inevitably result from this bill. But in any case Democratic pro-lifers sold themselves for a song, as they usually do.
And most people think the health care industry didn't want this. If that is so, it is hard to figure out why they helped bring it about:
We also can't mark this day without noting that it couldn't have happened without the complicity of America's biggest health-care lobbies, including Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Business Roundtable and such individual companies as Wal-Mart. They hope to get more customers, or to reduce their own costs, but in the end they have merely made themselves more vulnerable to the gilded clutches of the political class.
The crocodile will eat them too--even if they get eaten last. So now it we'll have to see what happens at the polls:
While the passage of ObamaCare marks a liberal triumph, its impact will play out over many years. We fought this bill so vigorously because we have studied government health care in other countries, and the results include much higher taxes, slower economic growth and worse medical care. As for the politics, the first verdict arrives in November.
Read the rest here.

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