Tag: Health

How to Recognize a Government Contractor, or a Federal Takeover

Here’s a poor, unsuccessful letter I sent to the editor of the Washington Post:

GOP stalls on insurance marketplaces” [May 12] reports that “the conservative firm Leavitt Partners…is working with a number of states on their plans” to create the government bureaucracies that the new health care law calls insurance “exchanges.”

The article should have informed readers that this “conservative firm” (whatever that means) is a for-profit government contractor that makes money by helping states create those exchanges, and is acting against the advice of the nation’s leading conservative think tank. The Heritage Foundation counsels states not to create exchanges, and to send all related funds back to Washington.

Finally, the article claims states can avoid a “federal takeover” by creating an exchange. On the contrary, the law requires state-run exchanges to obey all federal edicts, just as a federal exchange would. The federal takeover has already happened. States that create their own exchanges merely pay for the privilege of losing their sovereignty.

Repeat after Me: There Is No Health Reform but ObamaCare

Here’s a poor, unsuccessful letter I sent to the editor of Politico:

An item in Politico’s health care newsletter Pulse [“Today: Christie Vetoes Exchange Or Else,” May 10] told readers that, because I oppose ObamaCare, I am a “health reform foe.”

Is that what Politico gleans from my conversations with its reporters about the need for health care reform, and how I would go about it? From the hundreds of articles and opeds and speeches and blog posts in which I detail my preferred reforms? And from the book I coauthored about how to reform health care? Is it Politico’s editorial policy that one cannot support health reform without supporting ObamaCare?

Other news organizations, moreover, avoid describing ObamaCare as “reform,” a term that connotes improvement. Is it Politico’s editorial policy to convey to readers that ObamaCare is an improvement?

By Edict of King Andrew, New York Employers Will Be Subject to ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate

Here’s a poor, unsuccessful letter I sent to the editor of the New York Times:

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) created a new ObamaCare “exchange” by executive order, it was indeed “A Deft Health Care Move” [Apr. 18].

Really, what was he supposed to do? Let legislators decide whether to commit taxpayers to such an expense? (They had declined.) Sit back and let the federal government pay for its own Exchange? (That was the alternative.) Block a $3,000-per-worker tax on employers? (Had Cuomo done nothing, New York employers would have been exempt from ObamaCare’s “employer mandate.”)

Cuomo brilliantly and single-handedly volunteered New Yorkers to pay for a new government bureaucracy and burdened New York employers with a new, job-killing tax. Who needs a legislature!

Yes, the IRS Can Use Liens and Incarceration to Enforce ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate

Here’s a poor, unsuccessful letter I sent to the editor of the Washington Post:

A recent article [“Could the health-care law work without the individual mandate?”, Mar. 28, A8] claims the IRS “will be barred from using … collection tools such as placing liens or threatening incarceration” to enforce compliance with the requirement that Americans obtain health insurance. Not so.

Suppose the IRS assesses me a $1,000 penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. It is true that the law prohibits the IRS from using liens or incarceration to collect that $1,000. But, money being fungible, the IRS may simply deem my first $1,000 of income-tax withholding to be payment of that penalty. As a result, I would owe an additional $1,000 in income tax at the end of the year, and the IRS could come after me with every tool at its disposal, including liens and incarceration.

You Do Know What Makes It a ‘Free’ Market, Right?

Here’s a poor, unsuccessful letter I sent to the editor of the Washington Post:

Health-care provision at center of Supreme Court debate was a Republican idea” [Mar. 27, A7] describes the health care law Mitt Romney signed while governor of Massachusetts as comprised of “free-market ideas.” Really?

RomneyCare’s individual mandate, now mirrored in ObamaCare, uses the power of the state to compel people to health insurance. What could be more un-free than that?

If Thomas Edison Had to Submit His Innovations to Medicare, You Would Be Reading This by Candlelight

Two articles in the Washington Post sparked these two poor, unsuccessful letters to the editor. First this:

I’m no Republican, but “‘Innovation advisers’ chosen for ideas to improve health care, cut costs” [Jan. 21] gives short shrift to those who oppose the new health care law’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation when it reports, “Some Republicans have questioned the value of investing in experimentation to produce results at a time of limited resources.”

If some critic of the law actually said, “Resource limitations prevent us from investing in innovations that stretch resources further,” please do print it. I could use the laugh. But that’s not why critics oppose the Center.

The argument against the health care law’s efforts to promote innovation is that they won’t work. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that out of dozens of supposed Medicare innovations, only one met its goal of saving taxpayers money. That pilot program ended 16 years ago. Medicare has yet to adopt it program-wide.

This is an important debate. Readers deserve to hear both sides, not caricatures.

And then this:

Recent coverage of the new health care overhaul [“‘Innovation advisers’ chosen for ideas to improve health care, cut costs,” Jan. 21; “Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation aims to cut health-care costs,” Jan. 26] let defenders make outlandish claims about government efficiency, but gave short shrift to critics.

Government is not more innovative than private health insurance. It was private health plans that developed important innovations like prepayment, bundled payments, pay-for-performance, and penalties for medical errors. Government adoption typically lags private insurers by decades. In the rare instance where Medicare successfully tests an innovation (read: bundled payments for heart bypass surgery), it goes nowhere. If Thomas Edison had to submit his innovations to Medicare, you would be reading this by candlelight.

We don’t need more pilot programs to tell us that Medicare blocks innovation. What we need is a little skepticism when presented with the latest Bureau of Government Efficiency.