Originally published in September 2012. Time to revisit this.
First, if you missed this interview on Capital Account, spend the 30 minutes and watch it now.
Spend the 30 minutes. Seriously.
It will make you angry.
These facts and more are why I refused to put this issue down when it came to the Florida Libertarian Party and Gary Johnson. It is why I refuse to put this issue down in general. It is why there is a “Health Reform” section here on The Ticker, and why it features prominently in my public speaking engagements (and will for the foreseeable future.)
In short, this issue — bilking of consumers via various games that would never work in a free market, and which are only effective due to special privileges granted by government to these firms, is the issue when it comes to budgets and fiscal sustainability.
We either deal with this or we as a nation, as a body politic and as a people, sink.
There is no “half measure” that will work. This is not about politics, it is about arithmetic. It is about a greater than 9% increase in federal spending on a compounded basis from 1980 to last year. It is about two decades of 10%+ increases in health premiums forced down the throats of businesses that have resulted in the skimming of nearly 20% of GDP by these firms into the pockets of some very wealthy individuals and corporate interests.
It has follow-on lies and distortions as well; lies told about the “food pyramid” at the behest of agribusiness, attempts to control apparent inflation of the cost of living by enticing people to buy cheap crap in the store. An agenda within Big Pharma’s drive to not cure but control all manner of disease, thereby effectively generating drug addicts that are dependent on them for hundreds or even thousands of dollars of pills every month, fattening their balance sheets. And an agenda within government to support all of it, driven by lobbying and campaign contributions, including the AARP’s “scare seniors” tactics in a (fairly successful) attempt to drive them to affiliated businesses.
We have two options as a nation, and only two:
- Stop it. Now. Repeal all the special protections granted health-related companies, “for-profit” or not, and allow competition to work. Stop protecting cross-border pricing disparities with felony laws prohibiting re-importation and enforce the first-sale doctrine. Repeal EMTALA. Prosecute balance sheet games and claims repricing as a felony attempt to restrain trade. Demand and enforce level pricing irrespective of the means of payment under threat of felony prosecution under the Sherman, Clayton and Robinson-Patman acts. Make forced subsidies from those who can pay to those who cannot a criminal offense prosecuted as is any other form of grand theft. Prosecute those who attempt to prevent others from opening hospitals, practices or diagnostic centers through CON laws and similar games as Racketeering, because it is. Ban the “in-network/out-of-network” tying between alleged insurance companies and providers as a rank violation of the Sherman Act and bring felony Racketeering prosecutions against those who attempt it in the future. Ban the sale of alleged “insurance” that is not actually insurance, forcing the separation between insurance (a product bought against a highly-unlikely but catastrophic event) and “prepaid medical services”, putting an end to cross-subsidizations in this area as well.
- Collapse the existing system and go to single-payer with hard rationing. This is where we’re headed, because the system will collapse if we don’t act on it. Our choice here is simply to evade the economic damage that comes from a government funding crisis in the middle of where we are now and this endpoint. This will mean that if you need a coronary bypass your name will go on a list and when you get to the top of the list you get your procedure. If you die first that’s just tough crap. This is the Canadian model, basically. And if we get it here, it’s going to suck.
I know people don’t want to face this, because it means hard choices have to be made. But this is not just a matter of whether our government will go broke — it also bears directly on our international competitive posture when it comes to labor, manufacturing and cost of living.
We cannot continue on the path we are on. This issue is the driver of federal and state budget problems, including the issues surrounding the current Chicago Teachers’ strike. It will get worse by the day, not better, until we tackle and resolve it.
The only just way to address these issues is to put a stop to the abusive practices that riddle the health care industry and its exploitation of the people.
This isn’t about politics so much as it is about mathematics and the single largest existential threat to the continued fiscal solvency of our local, state and federal governments.