The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Healthcare Reform Debates Miss the Point

by Aaron Turpen

I’ve been watching, sometimes engaging, sometimes just observing, but always noting the sides of the arguments on health care reform. While endlessly entertaining (much better than reality TV), the arguments on all sides of the issue are all fundamentally missing the most basic of points.

Some are getting close, but still miss.

There are three basic sides to this issue: those who want to reform the current system, those who want universal/public healthcare, and those who oppose both ideas.

Reformers - The reformers are, sadly, the real minority. They’re the only voice of reason, in my mind, and are generally coming up with proposals that get entirely ignored by the other two sides. The problem there is the word “reform.” It’s another of those words that the “progressives” (today’s way of saying “socialist”) have hijacked to make their own–with an entirely different definition, of course.

The true reformers in this debate are asking that the current system have some big cuts made to it. Basically, reformers are asking for the removal of the restrictions and mandates of government so that health insurance and care can operate as a free market solution rather than as the quasi-socialist/capitalist mashup it is now.

These reforms would include TORT reform to limit lawsuits and liabilities, removal of state and federal mandates on insurance that requires mandatory coverage of things like hair plugs and Viagra, etc. Liability lawsuit coverage accounts for an estimated 47% of current medical costs while these required mandates, which vary by state, can account for up to 1/3 of insurance costs.

None of these true reforms are listed in current health care bills to any extent.

Universal/Public/Single Payer Advocates - These are the full blooded socialistic, Europe-worshipers who want America to become another arm of the EU. That basically summarizes my view of their ideology. They want fully nationalized (or quasi-national) health care, mandated, controlled, and operated by government.

Their changes to health care aren’t listed in any of the current health care bills. They just think they are. Probably because this seems to be what President Obama is alluding to when he talks about “health care reform.”

Objectionists - That’s the name I give to those who just flatly reject any change to the health care system. They usually do so either out of ignorance or because they are merely opposing the Single Payer Advocates (above) and believe anyone who uses the word “reform” is one of those “evil liberals.”

These are generally well-meaning people and at least they have their hearts in the right place. Many are true Patriots who deserve our thanks for their dogged opposition on many issues besides just health care. The problem is that most of these people are driven by disinformation almost as wildly incorrect as the Single Payer Advocates have.

They believe a lot of hokey things related to the proposals. Most of it is rooted in truth, but has been greatly exaggerated for the benefit of talk radio hosts and bloggers. Many of these people have talking points that are literally 140 characters or less (Twitter).

The Real Issue - The real issue at stake isn’t health care reform, the creation of universal health care in America, or the take over of healthcare by government. The issue here is three separate proposals for health care that are in Congress right now.

None of them matches any of the three sides to the current debate. Not a one. The closest is the now-famous House Bill 3200. This is the one most often pointed towards during debates. Facts be damned, though, the people debating it have usually never read it. The monster is 1,018 pages long, so it’s no wonder.

The problem is that a few people have read some key provisions or summaries of some sections of it and have written some things based on that information. This has been exploited and expanded on by others until it’s become a firestorm of questionable information with little root in the original.

That’s just one of the bills. Most people aren’t even aware of the other two.

The first is commonly called the Kennedy Health Care Bill, and is (probably wrongly) attributed to the bulletproof Senator Kennedy. This bill is about half the size of the House bill, but manages to cost just as much if implemented. You can read that bill here.

There is another in the Senate Finance Committee that will probably die on the vine now that Kennedy’s has been released. Still, it exists. Good luck finding the text.

The real problem, as I’ve pointed out, is that nobody in the debate is arguing the bills themselves. They’re arguing facts that whirlwind around the bills, but aren’t really the facts from the bills.

What I’d like to see is a concerted effort by the opposition to the fake health care reform gathering together to oppose the bills themselves. If we were to show up to meetings with real, actual facts and with printed copies of the bill in our hands, we would have much more credibility.

Instead, we are fringe. We are the “shouting mob.” We are the “birthers,” the “capitalists,” the “insurance company shills.”

Let’s be the truly informed public. After all, leftists hate facts. They can’t stand them. They get in the way of emotional argument, which is their only selling point.

How to Argue Against These B.S. Bills - Now we get to the crux of the issue. The real nitty-gritty. This is what will separate us from the angry, shouting, right-wing mobs they want us to be.

Refute their emotional arguments by ignoring them and stating facts instead.

When they shout about how many people bankrupted because of health care costs, mention that the current bills proposed do nothing to change health care costs, only the insurance for health care coverage. Health care costs will continue to rise under the current proposals, it’s just a matter of who’s footing the bill.

When they scream about how Canadians pay only 8% of their GDP on health care while we pay nearly double that, you could point out that the Canadians spend very little money on health care innovation and we spend 5x as much as all of Europe (combined). Again, neither of these facts are in the bills proposed. So they are irrelevant.

When the spout out that 47 million people don’t have health care coverage in the U.S., refute the number as meaningless since 12 million of those are not Americans (illegal immigrants) and many of the rest are uninsured by choice. Further, current proposals will force us to pay for coverage for those illegal immigrants and will force those who do not want insurance to get it. So much for freedom of choice.

When the talk turns to “poor people” (aka “underprivileged”) and how they need health care coverage, point out that the current system covers them through Social Security and Medicare.

Finally, when the long-winded vocals on the huge costs of medical care are given, mention that government pays for nearly 43% of our nation’s health care already through Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Those programs pay fixed rates to doctors, who must make up their losses by… charging higher prices to the rest of us. Not to mention the huge malpractice insurance rates (due to the amount of litigation), Medicare and Medicaid paperwork requirements, etc. that they have to pay for.

All in all, a reasoned, thoughtful, and factual debate should definitely cause the progressives to be the ones who begin to look more like the shouting mobs with unreasonable attitudes. They’ve already proven themselves to be the true astro-turfers here.


OpenCongress interactive HR 3200 page. Here you can read, comment on, and read others’ comments on the House bill that’s going to make or break Dingle’s career.

Kaiser Family Foundation side-by-side presentation and analysis of the three major proposals, continuously updated as committees change them.

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