Monday, June 08, 2009

Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on Earth's this spell we're under

Excellent editorial in today's WSJ on Obama's Health Cost Illusion:

Increasing cost-sharing would discipline the health spending curve and give it a more rational bent. As societies grow richer, it makes sense that people will invest more in their own well-being. Health is a superior good, while the utility of wealth is fairly low if you're dead. The U.S. health cost "crisis" is that we spend so much without incentives to weigh the costs against the benefits.

Yet the entire Obama agenda is about increasing political, rather than individual, control of the health markets. Ted Kennedy's draft health-care bill offers insurance subsidies up to 500% of the poverty line -- for a family of four, that's $110,250. In that kind of world, all costs will climb even higher as people use far more "free" care and federal spending will reach epic levels. Bureaucrats watching the bottom line will try to ration care while simultaneously locked in a death match with interest groups guarding their turf. Congress will join the fray and make things worse, as it always does. Caught in the political crossfire will be patients, as they always are.

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None of the complexities surrounding regional health spending variation would matter as much if the Obama Administration were merely trying to defossilize Medicare and save the federal fisc. But instead it is exploiting the looming bankruptcy of our current entitlements as a pretext to pass the largest entitlement expansion since 1965. And it is selling this agenda with a phony cost-control "plan" that doesn't even exist.

The now-famous Obama-Orszag mantra -- "entitlement reform is health-care reform" -- really means that when they're done, all health care will be an entitlement.

The administration's answer to failing entitlements is...more entitlements. When we reach the point where all health care is an entitlement, we will have completely ceded control over it to the government. And when the government controls your health care, they quiet literally have control of your life.

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