Archive for the ‘Health care’ Category

A serious response to the S&P downgrade

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

The Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. debt is a genuine wake-up call. The country is in deep financial dodo. We need to get serious about enacting government policies that will right the ship.

S&P stated that the downgrade was issued, even after the much ballyhooed deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit, because of (1)  the nation’s continuing budget deficits and climbing debt burden and (2) the political gridlock in Washington.

The first problem, of course, is that the government is spending more than it takes in. A lot more. In order to reduce the deficit (and ultimately, the debt), the U.S. must either increase revenue, reduce spending, or do some of both. President Obama and Democrats in Congress (notably in the Senate where they hold the majority) propose to increase revenue via tax increases. while Republicans in Congress (notably in the House where they hold the majority) propose to reduce government spending. Their disagreement produces the second problem – the gridlock.

The Democrat policy is flawed because it is based on the fallacious assumption that higher taxation automatically generates a proportionate increase in revenue. The problem is, higher tax rates act as a disincentive for business expansion, consumer spending and job creation. Those in turn result in less income subject to the higher rates, reducing or even eliminating the assumed gains in government revenue. The Heritage Foundation points out that tax revenues correlate with economic growth, not tax rates. Since 1952, the highest marginal income tax rate has dropped from 92% to 35%, and tax revenues have grown in inflation-adjusted terms while remaining constant as a percent of GDP. Democrats temper their tax increases by proposing to increase taxes only on “the rich.” Unfortunately, “the rich” includes most of the employers whose employment decisions are impacted by tax rates. Heritage notes that tax changes favoring “the rich” create growth better than tax cuts favoring low- and middle-income taxpayers. The other side of that coin dictates than tax changes targeting “the rich” will harm economic growth more than tax increases targeting low- and middle-income taxpayers.

Democrats in the debt debate have tiptoed around actual tax rate increases by proposing the elimination of certain deductions (e.g., the President’s rhetoric about corporate jets). But, as with tax rates, that policy’s  impact on related employment and other tax-generating activities needs to be considered carefully. For example, the 1993 tax increases included an excise tax on yachts that sharply reduced yacht sales and led to loss of jobs in the yacht building industry. Current Democrat proposals to cap itemized deductions for the wealthy would effectively eliminate deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable donations by the very people who can afford to make such personal expenditures. That in turn would further harm a housing industry whose slide helped precipitate the Great Recession, and reduce the resources available to charities at the very time they are needed most.

The Republican strategy of cutting government spending is more sound. Eliminating the trillion dollar Obamacare boondoggle (which a clear majority want Congress to do) would be an excellent first step. While Obamacare repeal wouldn’t save its entire trillion dollar cost because of the need to restore the Medicare cuts that Obamacare imposed, the net savings would be significant. A smaller but symbolically important gesture by the President would be to reduce expenditures on his personal staff. Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris notes that pay increases to the President’s top 20 employees increased this year by an average of 48%. That’s unconscionable in these perilous economic times. And, of course, cut the pork.

Keynesian Democrats, flashing back to the 1960s, argue that reduced government spending adversely impacts government revenues in the same way as tax increases. Democrats liken increased government spending to tax cuts, claiming that both strategies utilize a “multiplier effect” by putting  money in people’s pockets that they spend on other goods and services. But government spending doesn’t really pump any new money into the economy, because, as the Heritage Foundation notes, government must first tax or borrow that money out of the economy. In contrast, pro-growth tax cuts support incentives for economically productive behavior. The right tax cuts help the economy by reducing government’s influence on economic decisions and allowing people to respond more to market mechanisms. Most tax increases do exactly the opposite.

Unfortunately, principled but simplistic solutions like “raise taxes” and “cut spending” are not sufficient by themselves to solve a problem as complex and as federal debt accumulated over a number of years. While cutting federal spending is a much better solution than raising taxes, spending cuts alone many not be enough. But revenue sources should be chosen that don’t negatively impact economic growth and job creation. The government can raise some revenue without taxing anybody at all by simply selling off unused or underutilized government assets, like certain office buildings and other real estate. Reducing or eliminating deductions for state and local taxes should be considered because such a policy wouldn’t really provide a disincentive for anything within a taxpayer’s control (other than the extreme step of moving to a lower taxed state or locality). The so-called “sin taxes” on cigarettes, alcohol and similar products whose consumption has not historically been adversely affected by higher cost are another avenue to explore. Another realistic conservative sacrifice could be reinstating pre-Bush levels of estate and inheritance taxation. Conservatives recently reduced these taxes on the basis of fairness, but can we legitimately argue that higher death taxes will be a disincentive to death? If so, bring it on!

The “political gridlock”part of the problem must be solved by voters in 2012. We need to turn the presidency and control of both houses of Congress over to a single political party. If a constitutional amendment (like the Balanced Budget Amendment) is part of the solution, the straight-party vote should also extend to members of state legislatures, where constitutional amendments are ratified. The personal popularity of politicians from the other party must be disregarded in this time of crisis. In order to get a government that is decisive, the voters must be decisive. One way or the other, full bore.

Anti-Prop C mailing violated campaign laws

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

The Missouri Hospital Association spent over a quarter million dollars ($262,580 to be exact) through July 21 on direct mail costs for a flyer trashing Missouri’s Proposition C, the Health Care Freedom Act. The deceptive, hypocritical content of the flyer has already been well documented by Dana Loesch and United for Missouri, so I won’t belabor that point here.

What is new is that these professional hospital lobbyists and their expensive Austin-based communications firm violated Missouri campaign finance laws in the process.

Missouri law (Section 130.031.8 of the state statutes) requires a disclaimer identifying the sponsor of any written material pertaining to any election (specifically including a ballot measure such as Proposition C). The law requires that the disclaimer be made “in a clear and conspicuous manner” in accordance with specific standards. While the flyer used the smallest print anywhere on the flyer to disclose “Paid for by the Missouri Hospital Association”, that’s all the information the disclaimer disclosed. The law specifically and clearly requires that, in addition to the name of the entity, an association such as the MHA must also include in its “paid for by” disclaimer “the name of the principal officer of the entity, by whatever title known, and the mailing address of the entity, or if the entity has no mailing address, the mailing address of the principal officer.” The flyer’s disclaimer failed to disclose those required items. The MHA mailing address appears elsewhere in the flyer (but not where the law required it to be stated), and the flyer failed altogether to identify its principal officer (or his or her title). I’d like to know who that scumbag is, wouldn’t you?

And for a title, how about “criminal?” Purposely violating Missouri campaign laws is a crime, specifically a Class A Misdemeanor.

Update: A new MHA filing discloses an additional $145,742 in spending against Proposition C, bringing the total over $400,000. A second mailing repeated the same distorted substance, but at least got the disclaimer right.

Obama’s ‘back door’ government-run health plan

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Don’t be fooled by the absence of the so-called “public option” in President Obama’s newest health care plan. It will lead to full-blown government-run health care, not by happenstance but by design.

First some background. Liberals want a total government takeover of health care that they call “single payer” (i.e., the government would be the “single payer” for all health care). The bill that passed the House of Representatives contained a “public option” that would compete (unfairly) with privately owned health insurers, but which falls short of liberals’ single-payer objective. Neither President Obama’s proposal nor the bill that passed the Senate includes any “public option.” This has caused many liberals to complain bitterly.

The liberal complaints, though, whether sincere or just role-playing, merely provide distraction and cover for the real Democrat agenda. The effect of the President’s plan, if passed, would ultimately be to drive private health insurers out of business, so that the government will have “no choice” but to step in with a government-run plan.

Here’s the deal. The House, Senate and Obama plans all include provisions that bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems or charging them more. This strikes at the very heart of the concept of how insurance works. Insurance spreads expensive risks around, so that a large number of people essentially pool their money to pay extraordinary expenses incurred by a few of them. Those unfortunate enough to incur the insured loss receive more than they pay in, but the funds are there to help because the other folks pay more than they get back. People are happy to pay for the peace of mind that their expenses will be covered if they ever become unfortunate enough to incur the loss.

But the health care proposals undercut that fundamental insurance mechanism, by allowing people to “game the system” by only buying insurance when they’re sick, so that everyone can assure themselves of getting more in benefits than they pay in premiums. The initial impact will be increases in rates for everybody, to pay for the sudden claims of the “leach” policyholders who didn’t pay until their loss had manifested itself. As usual, the folks who play fair will get stuck paying through the nose for who cheated. Ultimately, the folks who play fair will catch on, and the insurance companies will run out of suckers.

Proponents of the plan will argue that there won’t be any “cheaters,” because the legislation will require all people to buy insurance, which will broaden the risk pool, an argument that insurance company executives and lobbyists have fallen for. But, as insidious as such an unconstitutional compulsory purchase requirement is, it is toothless and ineffective. The punishment for not buying health insurance is a fine that is less than the cost of insurance. System gamers can simply pay the fine every year until a medical need arises, and then they can buy health insurance and be fully covered without further penalty. So the insurance company won’t really get new low-risk customers to broaden their risk. In fact, they won’t even get any revenue from the fines – the government keeps that, thank you very much.

With every insured guaranteed to “win,” the insurance company is guaranteed to lose, and ultimately go out of business. This is exactly what Obama and his fellow statists have in mind. With no private insurers willing to accept a “sure lose” risk, no one will have health insurance, an emergency begging for government action. And the government will have no choice but to provide health insurance. To deal with this “unexpected emergency,” of course.

They’ve had it in mind all along.

Using health care to reward and punish

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

You can take the guy out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the guy.

As is routine in Chicago-style machine politics, President Obama has crafted his health insurance plan in a way that rewards his supporters and punishes his political foes.

Take senior citizens, for example. They didn’t buy Obama’s act in 2008. Official exit polls showed that they were the only age group that backed Republican John McCain over Obama.  McCain’s margin over Obama was actually 3 points greater than George W. Bush’s senior margin over John Kerry. Those geezers were asking for it, and Obama is giving them what they deserve (in Chicago payback terms).

Obama’s new health plan, like both the Senate and House plans that the American people have overwhelmingly rejected in national polls, is funded in large part by cutting half a trillion dollars from Medicare, which is health care for the elderly. The reduced reimbursements to medical providers will cause many of them to stop serving Medicare patients, creating a shortage of medical services to Medicare patients. Obama’s plan doesn’t provide new health care; it just takes health care away from seniors in order to give it to some of the currently uninsured. Most of the currently uninsured voted for Obama; most seniors didn’t.

Seniors are being punished in a potentially deadly way. Medicare cuts will kill them off quicker, so they can’t continue to vote against Obama.

Part of the Medicare cuts is the elimination of the Medicare Advantage program. Eliminating that program is a payoff to AARP for its endorsement of Obamacare. AARP, you see, makes most of its money from selling insurance to seniors, totally dwarfing its revenue from members’ dues. It turns out that Medicare Advantage is effectively a competitor of AARP’s own endorsed “Medigap” insurance plans. Rubbing out this competitor will result in much higher profits for AARP. Again, it’s the Chicago way.

Then there’s the voters who earn over $200,000 a year, who gave Obama a 6-point margin over McCain. Now these wealthy Americans are being spared from earlier proposals to pay for the plan by limiting their itemized tax deductions. Sending seniors to an early grave is much better in the Chicago way.

And then there’s single people vs. married people. In the 2008 election, 65% of unmarried voters backed Obama, compared to only 47% of married voters. That’s an 18-point gap. The result: Obama’s proposed return of the “marriage penalty,” by which married couples are taxed more than similarly situated singles. Under Obama’s newest health care plan, an unmarried couple who each earns up to $200,000 a year from all sources will pay no Medicare tax on their investment income. But an otherwise identical married couple will pay up to $5,700 in additional Medicare tax. Married people must be made to pay for their ill-conceived support of McCain.

It’s the Obama/Emanuel/Axelrod Chicago way.

Redistribution of the health

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

While it is well known that the Obama Administration and its rubber-stamp Congress seek to redistribute wealth from their opponents to their supporters, a more onerous pursuit is their planned redistribution of the health.

President Obama’s recently announced health care plan (in 11-page summary with no further specifics) provides health insurance to 31 million people who currently have none. But it does so by cutting half a trillion dollars from Medicare. The reduced reimbursements to medical providers will cause many of them to stop serving Medicare patients, creating a shortage of medical service to Medicare patients. In effect, Obama’s plan doesn’t create any new health care, it just gives it to one set of people by taking it away from others.

Obamacare shills love to chide critics as being “hateful” to the uninsured. So why are they themselves so hateful to seniors?

Clinton admits Democrat goal to stifle dissent

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

A Democrat friend received a fundraising letter from former President Bill Clinton seeking funds for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Clinton’s letter confirms that Democrats’ purpose is to ignore and silence everyone who disagrees.

Clinton opines [emphasis added],

If we can strengthen our Democratic majority in Congress, think about what President Obama will be able to do.

He won’t have to debate whether or not the GOP [statements] about health care reform are true; he’ll be able to focus on putting [Democrat health care proposals] into action.

He won’t have to debate whether or not global climate change is real; . . .

He won’t have to debate whether or not privitizing Social Security is a bad idea; . . .

The key to it all: Obama “won’t have to debate.” Enough of this democracy bullshit, say Clinton and the Democrats, let’s just do it.

This is consistent with another DSCC mailer that I discussed in a post last month. That mailer distributed refrigerator magnets with the DSCC slogan, “Silence GOP lies.” The key word was “Silence” (the verb, not the noun). Not debate, not counter, not refute, but silence! To put that in full context, that earlier letter ominously concluded, “We want change–and we won’t let anyone stand in the way.

Democrats’ campaign to suppress patriotic dissent was first noticed last summer, when SEIU thugs beat down people attending Rep. Russ Carnahan’s (D-MO) staged town hall meeting. Then the party coordinated verbal attacks designed to demonize citizen dissent. The Democratic National Committee aired a television ad depicting town hall audiences as “angry mobs.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused the protesters of trying to sabotage the democratic process. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer published an op-ed piece calling the protests “un-American.” Former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO and mother of both Rep. Carnahan and a daughter likely to face voters’ wrath this year) characterized Obamacare protesters as “hordes that take up pitchforks,” accusing them of “mob hysteria” and “remarks that border on treason.” Treason! Last month, Reid took the senate floor to compare Republicans who oppose Obamacare to lawmakers who opposed abolishing slavery, an ironic statement after this week’s revelations of Reid’s racially insensitive comments about then-candidate Barack Obama.

In November, a network of liberal groups known as Velvet Revolution started an ad campaign offering $100,000 (later increased to $200,000) for dirt on Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue, in retaliation for the Chamber’s opposition to climate change and health care legislation.

D.C. Democrats are dedicated to the use of intimidation and, if necessary, force. We must use every legitimate means to stop them from muzzling our country.

Democrats making hay while the sun shines

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Noted conservative blogger Erick Erickson ( recently came to a conclusion I had been nursing for some time. Here is my own formulation.

With the Presidency, a comfortable margin in the U.S. House and a working filibuster-proof margin in the Senate, Democrats are doing what Republicans failed to do when they controlled Congress and the Presidency (albeit without 60 votes in the Senate): they are seizing the opportunity to enact their agenda into law, perhaps in ways that it may not be possible for a later congress to repeal. They are consciously imposing their agenda without regard to documented public opinion and – as Erickson notes – without regard to the risk of losing their seats and control because of their actions. They are putting principle (warped principle, to be sure, but still the principles that drive them) ahead of their personal job security. Erickson noted more succinctly than I, “[T]he Democrats can effect a permanent policy shift in the country and are willing to take the hits to do it.”

The decision of  Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) to forego reelection is a case in point. While his decision possibly hands Republicans a senate seat Democrats likely would have retained with Dorgan running for reelection, it also signals that Dorgan is now free to vote the liberal party line without any concern over political repercussions – or the will of his conservative North Dakota constituents. Screw them! Recent House retirees like John Tanner (D-TN) from districts where McCain beat Obama are similarly free to tote Speaker Pelosi’s line with impunity.

Democrats are consciously risking their political futures because they know these two years are realistically their only chance to accomplish what they want. And, more ominously, they believe (perhaps accurately) that what they do now cannot later be undone, even after they lose control. Even if Republicans were to take EVERY Democrat senate seat this election (a virtually impossible feat), they would still lack the 60 votes necessary to pass repeal – or anything else the Democrats are willing to sabotage. Once health care deform is passed, once they have successfully looted $500 million dollars from the Medicare trust fund, can conservatives realistically overturn it? How would they restore Medicare as we know it after all the money accumulated for half a century is gone? And once entitlements have been created, count on result-oriented liberal judges to treat the new handouts as unalienable rights.

This is the liberals’ hour, and they are seizing the opportunity. This is why they fought so hard to steal the Minnesota senate election for Al “Stuart Smalley” Franken.

After the health care takeover, watch for Congress and the Administration to push aggressively to pay off organized labor with card check, to pay off environmentalist wackos with the previously stalled cap-and-tax business killer, and to grant full amnesty and accelerated citizenship (and voting rights!) to illegal aliens who, with the stroke of Obama’s pen, won’t be illegal any more, so they can vote to rescue Democrats at the ballot box. They’ll do it this year because it’s their last chance – and because even a new Republican majority won’t be able to act until it’s too late.

Erickson speculates that Democratic reps who make the ultimate electoral sacrifice for passing the liberal agenda will be rewarded with ambassadorships and other cushy federal appointments.

Republicans need to nominate candidates who, when they win and take control, will make the same principled sacrifices as the Democrats are this session.

The politics of prosecution in the Age of Obama

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Legal ethics require that a prosecutor’s highest priorities are fairness and justice, not getting a conviction. As an “officer of the court,” a prosecutor is supposed to act without regard to political or other outside interests. But ever since President Obama took office, politics has played a lead role in many prosecutions affecting citizens rights to protest and seek redress and even their right to vote. Democratic prosecutors, including many directly in the chain of command in the President’s Department of Justice, have systematically abused the criminal process to insulate their allies from prosecution and accountability, deny justice to political opponents and their sympathizers, persecute political opponents and their sympathizers, and intimidate citizen journalists seeking to shine the light on Democrats’ sinister actions.

The Obama Administration set the tone shortly after taking office. The Justice Department dismissed a voter intimidation case that had already been won against the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and an elected member of Philadelphia’s 14th Ward Democratic Committee. The latter was a credentialed poll watcher for Obama and the Democratic Party when the violations occurred. The message was clear. Obama supporters who are willing to commit election fraud, steal government funds or engage in other wrongdoing can do so with the confidence that Obama’s “got their back.”

Here is St. Louis, SEIU members took that message to heart this summer when trying to snuff out dissent against the President’s health care proposals. Only hours after the Obama White House told supporters to “punch back twice as hard” against critics, SEIU members savagely beat Kenneth Gladney, an independent vendor of patriotic flags and anti-Obamacare buttons, outside a packed town hall meeting in Mehlville. Another person there assaulted Kelly Owens, a woman with a video camera who was documenting the crimes, breaking the camera when smashing it against Ms. Owens’ face.

Democratic prosecutors in St. Louis County did their best to protect their Democratic allies and deny justice to the victims. First they sandbagged, hoping no one would notice the lack of action. When citizen bloggers refused to let the controversy die, prosecutors reluctantly filed minimal charges, announcing them the day before Thanksgiving, when they hoped no one would notice. And even then, the charges that were filed were mere ordinance violations for what videotapes demonstrated were clear felonious violations of state law. The prosecutors never even contacted the victims or other eyewitnesses, or even examined a victim’s hospital records to ascertain the extent of the injuries inflicted.

Kelly Owens, victim of assault at town hall

Kelly Owens

The less publicized case – the assault on Owens – is perhaps the more egregious cover-up. There the target of the violence was the evidence of the other assaults that Ms. Owens was gathering. That case should have included a count of obstruction of justice in addition to the assault charges. But this was justice that the Democrat prosecutors wanted to help obstruct. If the defendants plead guilty quickly, constitutional protection against double jeopardy will prevent any revisions of the charges, and the defendants will be able to escape with mere wrist slaps. Once again, Democrats abusing their prosecutorial trust will have had the criminals’ backs.

James O'Keefe

As lax as Democrat prosecutors are against their allies, they have been lightning fast in bringing or threatening spurious criminal charges against dissenters from party policies. This corrupt strategy is called ‘SLAPP” suits – Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. Major targets of criminal SLAPP suits and threats are James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, the two young citizen journalists who documented their own private “sting” of corrupt activities of ACORN, a major organizational supporter of Obama and recipient of millions of dollars of federal grants. O’Keefe and Giles videotaped ACORN officials in multiple offices willingly offering technical assistance in setting up a child prostitution business. In Maryland, prosecutors threatened charges against the two for violating that state’s wiretapping laws, while ignoring the blatant ACORN conduct. This was the same kind of retaliatory prosecution that was filed against former White House aide Linda Tripp after she released recordings of White House intern Monica Lewinski discussing her sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton. California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) may be planning a similar whitewash. A San Diego ACORN official was taped telling a local Democratic club meeting that he had been in communication with Brown’s office and assuring the crowd that “the fault WILL be found with the people that did the video — not ACORN.”

In similar SLAPP activity, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in response to Republican demands for a hearing on “Climategate,” the recently leaked University of East Anglia emails that impugn the credibility of scientific findings on global warming, stated that she plans to focus instead on the computer hacking that discovered the emails.

Democrats’ abusive SLAPP prosecutions are related to their overall campaign to suppress patriotic dissent. This summer, in addition to inspiring the physical attacks described earlier, the party coordinated verbal attacks designed to demonize citizen dissent. The Democratic National Committee fired the first major salvo, airing a television ad depicting town hall audiences as “angry mobs.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused the protesters of trying to sabotage the democratic process. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer published an op-ed piece calling the protests “un-American.” The same day, former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO) characterized Obamacare protesters as “hordes that take up pitchforks,” accusing them of “mob hysteria” and “remarks that border on treason.” Treason!

Last month, a network of liberal groups known as Velvet Revolution started an ad campaign offering $100,000 (recently increased to $200,000) for dirt on Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue, in retaliation for the Chamber’s opposition to climate change and health care legislation. Fast forward to today, when Reid took the senate floor to compare Republicans (but not Democrats) who oppose Obamacare to lawmakers who opposed abolishing slavery or allowing women to vote.

Perhaps the most disturbing threat came last month, when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee distributed refrigerator magnets with their slogan, “Silence GOP lies.” They call anything that disagrees with them a “lie,” but the key word is “Silence” (the verb, not the noun). Not debate, not counter, not refute, but silence! To put that in full context, the accompanying fundraising letter ominously concludes, “We want change–and we won’t let anyone stand in the way.” These people are dedicated to the use of force.

These aren’t just the words and actions of bloggers or commentators, but of the ruling party and high-level members of the government. The threat couldn’t be more real.

Force. Intimidation. Abusive litigation. It’s the Democratic (Party) way.

Poll says Missouri opposes Obamacare by 21 points

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Missouri showed the second-lowest support for the Obamacare among the 10 states polled by Public Policy Polling, whose clients are predominantly Democrat. In results released today, the pollster reported that only 34% of Missourians favored the Democrat health care plan, while a solid majority (55%) opposed it, a 21-point gap.

Maybe that’s why likely Democrat senate nominee Robin Carnahan refuses to take a stand on the bill.

Opponents outnumbered supporters in nine of the ten states. The exception was Maine, where Obamacare was up by a single point, a statistically insignificant margin.

The only polled state where Obamacare fared worse than Missouri was Arkansas, where only 29% favored the plan and fully 60% opposed. The proposal is a major reason Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is trailing all announced Republican challengers in her expected 2010 reelection bid. Tom Jensen of PPP described Lincoln as “the most likely Senator up for reelection next year to lose.” Considering scandal-plagued Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) is also up then, that’s saying something!

Health care lessons from the Swiss

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Supporters of Obamacare keep changing the target, much like a street hustler’s shell game. First, they held out neighboring Canada as a model. But when horror stories of denied care and long waits in Canada surfaced, they claimed Obamacare would be more like England. And when horror stories from England surfaced, Democrat media claimed it would be more like Switzerland, a model probably chosen because information about its plan is pretty scarce over here.

Well, last month I had the opportunity to attend a gathering that featured two women from Switzerland, who were there to tell us what their everyday lives were like, and to answer our questions about life there. These women knew very little about U.S. politics and had no underlying political agenda to taint their observations. I took the opportunity to ask them how they liked their health care and how their plan worked.

The initial response of both of them (and the end of the story as far as the main-stream media is concerned) was that they were very satisfied with their health care. They were unaware (either from their own experience or that of their acquaintances) of any significant waits for treatment, any refusal to provide desired treatment, or of any Swiss acquaintances going to another country to seek medical treatment.

One of the ladies offered (and the other agreed) that there were several important reasons that made their health care so good.

First and foremost, the ladies’  plan was so good because it was so well funded. It turns out that (a point not mentioned by Obamacare proponents) there isn’t so much a Swiss health care system as there are 23 separate systems, with each canton (analogous to our states) having its own health care system. The Swiss experience in other cantons, both noted, would be different. Though not wealthy themselves, the ladies live in the canton of Graubunden (also called Grisons), where chic alpine ski villages St. Moritz, Davos and Arosa are situated. The area is a mecca for wealthy people, including many bankers and doctors who work elsewhere in Switzerland or even in nearby foreign countries. Graubunden lures and retains lots of wealthy residents by consciously having lower tax rates than its neighbors. Low tax rates, she noted, applied to huge amounts of income produced lots of revenue (sounds a lot like Reaganomics) for funding deluxe health care for relatively few people (Graubunden’s total population is under 200,000).

Next, they explained, their health care is good because they have good doctors, because Graubunden’s health care system pays its doctors very well. This high pay, along with the canton’s low tax rates, beautiful scenery and desirable lifestyle, attract highly paid highly skilled medical professionals. Doctors from other countries (especially Germany) flock there. In contrast, Obamacare is to be funded in part by paying doctors less (in spite of a larger patient load). Medical schools are already experiencing drops in enrollment of students from the U.S.

The ladies also insisted that a key to successful health care plans in Switzerland was the compulsory purchase provision, which may be unconstitutional in the U.S.  Every Swiss resident is obligated to buy health insurance. People there don’t get to game the system by only buying it when they need it. This works in Switzerland because of an ingrained Swiss cultural trait not common in the U.S. The Swiss are compliant, conforming people. If the law says you do it, you do it. When another member of the audience asked what the penalty was for not buying the insurance, the Swiss women were perplexed. “What do you mean, ‘What if somebody doesn’t?’ Everybody does. It’s compulsory.” Uh, good luck with that in the U.S.

Finally (and somewhat related to compulsory purchase), Swiss health care systems are not strained by the demands of undocumented immigrants. While Switzerland does have immigrants (the ladies estimated as much as 20% of its population), those immigrants are documented and buy the insurance just like everyone else. Those who follow Swiss immigration procedures are welcome, but the Swiss have zero tolerance for undocumented immigrants. The ladies explained, when Swiss authorities find them, they “send them back.” U.S. politicians don’t have the backbone for such a policy, and many even encourage illegal immigration for political gain.

So, while universal health care in the wealthy Swiss canton of Graubunden is a genuine success story for government-run health care, it probably wouldn’t work nearly as well in a country with the economics, demographics, culture and size of the U.S.