Start from scratch on health care

By Matthew Gagnon,
Posted March 29, 2012, at 3:53 p.m.

The so-called “Affordable Care Act” — an Orwellian-named law if I have ever seen one — is in some pretty serious trouble this week.

That’s not just my assessment, it seems that legal observers all over the country are agreeing that the Supreme Court is likely to deal a major blow to the health care reform law. The individual mandate looks likely to be thrown out, and there is even some talk that the entire law might go with it.

I would certainly cheer if that were to happen. The health care reform law passed two years ago is an affront to individual liberty, a giveaway to the insurance companies and does little to nothing about inflated costs. It has a couple common sense, popular nuggets — namely, ensuring that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage, and children can stay on their parents’ insurance longer — but a couple nice pieces do not a good law make.

Already, I’ve been hearing a lot of recrimination from the left about the impending rejection of the law. To a person, they recite the current problems with our health insurance system in the United States, as though that somehow justifies an unconstitutional law.

Their argument seems to go a little something like this: “We have to do something about the health care disaster in this country, ergo we have to uphold this law, because this law is something.” While I agree we need to do something, that doesn’t mean that this particular law was the right choice. Indeed, it appears to not even be a constitutional choice.

The current system is a hot mess, and it must change. I think by now it should be obvious that basically everyone — Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Libertarians, everyone — is on board with that.

Compelling people to enter a market under threat of fine, penalty and-or jail, however, is not the best way to go. Ironically, it was Barack Obama himself who made this argument in the 2008 campaign while running against Hillary Clinton.

Recently, I spoke to a Democratic friend of mine about this issue. When I asked him about what he thought about health care in this country, he got right to the heart of the issue:

“The irony of the whole health care debate is that I would bet that the vast majority of Americans couldn’t care less how they received health care as long as it was affordable, the coverage was good and the quality of the care didn’t decrease. I don’t care if I get health care through a single-payer system or some libertarian market-driven system, as long as my health coverage is reasonably complete, affordable and of good quality.”

Who can really disagree with this? Certainly not I. He is right. While there are undeniably some among us who are so political that we will not accept an ideological system on principle, most of us just want good coverage at an affordable rate.

But with due respect to my friend, we are simply never going to get that from a government-operated system. What I consider the real irony here is that the government has created the problems that the government is now trying to solve by (you guessed it) involving the government more.

We are cleaning up a system that they created 50 years ago. It began with the imposition of our ludicrous employer-based health care system, which hides real cost and prevents consumers from shopping around for insurance (i.e. stifling competition).

The problem got exacerbated when, on top of it all, the government imposed mandates for coverage — birth control being the latest example — that inflate costs and destroy any ability for insurers to tailor different versions of insurance (read: cheaper) that are more appropriate for your lifestyle.

The government involving itself in all these mandates and the government setting up the system to be as it is now is what crushed the entire health market in the first place.

And that is what is really wrong with the health care reform law, and why it deserves to die. The government attempting to force you to buy into its broken system and flush your money down the toilet was always lunacy. If it truly is struck down, maybe we can take the opportunity to reform the system properly and get the government bureaucrats out of the system.

Matthew Gagnon, a Hampden native, is a Republican political strategist. He previously worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. You can reach him at matthew.o.gagnon@gmail.com and read his blog at www.pinetreepolitics.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/29/opinion/contributors/start-from-scratch-on-health-care/ printed on August 30, 2014