More myths debunked last week in this column by George Newman in the WSJ. My favorite excerpts:
“If you like your current plan you can keep it.”
In other words, you can keep your current plan if it (and the company offering it) is still around. This is not a trivial qualification. Proponents have clearly learned from the HillaryCare debacle in the 1990s that radical transformation does not sell. What we have instead is what came to be dubbed “salami tactics” in postwar Eastern Europe where Communist leaders took away freedoms one at a time to minimize resistance and obscure the ultimate goal. If nothing else, a century of vain attempts to break the Post Office monopoly should teach us how welcoming Congress is to competition to one of its high-cost, inefficient wards.
“Congress will be strictly neutral between the public and private plans.”
Nonsense. Congress has a hundred ways to help its creation hide costs, from squeezing suppliers to hidden subsidies (think Amtrak). And it has even more ways to bankrupt private plans. One way is to mandate ever more exotic and expensive coverage (think hair transplants or sex-change operations). Another is by limiting and averaging premiums and outlawing advertising. And if all else fails Congress can always resort to tax audits and public harassment of executives — all in the name of “leveling the playing field.” Then, in the end, the triumphal announcement: “The private system has failed.”
“Decisions will still be made by doctors and patients and the system won’t be politicized.”
Fat chance. Funding conflicts between mental health and gynecology will be based on which pressure group offers the richer bribe or appears more politically correct. The closing (or opening) of a hospital will be based not on need but which subcommittee chairman’s district the hospital is in. Imagine the centralization of all medical research in the country in the brand new Robert Byrd Medical Center in Morgantown, W.Va. You get the idea.
I’ve added this one to the side bar, too.