Extreme makeover

On Monday, President Barack Obama pitched his scheme for a government “reform” of American health care and medical insurance to the American Medical Association, continuing a public relations blitz designed to quickly push the pricey scheme through Congress.

As is becoming typical of his approach, the president warned all parties — doctors, hospitals, insurance companies — that each would have to sacrifice something under his plan. He then attempted to sweeten the pot by offering something back — in the doctors’ case, some partial protection from the fear of malpractice lawsuits that now lead doctors to order expensive medical tests most parties consider unnecessary.

Americans — occupants of the wealthiest nation in the world — are now estimated to spend $2 trillion per year on health care. Mr. Obama’s position is that the current health care system is too costly and that it doesn’t make people better.

The Obama administration wants to see about $950 billion less spent on health care over the next decade. The president and his men deny this will mean rationing, but any commodity in high demand is always rationed. The question is whether health care shall be rationed by price — those who work and save and make health care a high priority will get more because they are willing and able to pay more — or whether some new and different form of rationing will be imposed, with government bureaucrats or other parties delegated by government bureaucrats deciding who will get how much (or how little) health care, based presumably on some calculation of perceived need.

“The president also will insist that there be some public option to cover health care for the 45 million to 50 million uninsured Americans,” the Los Angeles Times reports, using a number which would appear to include Americans who voluntarily drop their health insurance, or who are temporarily without coverage while changing jobs. “But Obama will rule out a single-payer system, much like Canada’s,” the Times reports. “This is politically a non-starter, though some Democrats favor the approach, branded as socialism by conservatives.”

The Washington Post asked Robert E. Moffit, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, what he thought of the proposal.

“The disconnect in the president’s speech to the American Medical Association was remarkable,” Mr. Moffit replied. “He reiterated the key elements of his health policy agenda: a new government-run health plan to compete with private health plans in a government-run national health insurance exchange. It would include a government mandate on employers to offer government-approved coverage, as well as a government mandate on individuals to buy government-approved insurance.

“Yet the president warned the doctors about the unnamed ‘naysayers’ who claim he’s trying to bring about ‘government-run’ health care. Gee, where would they get that idea?”

What President Obama is trying to do is to slip in a vastly expensive health care “reform” that will lead inevitably to a government-run, socialized system for everyone — complete with rationing to decide who gets care and who does not, based on such factors as life expectancy and lifestyle choices (whether the patient deserves treatment for conditions resulting from smoking, drinking, riding a motorcycle, etc.) — while dressing up the scheme with lipstick and a wig to prevent anyone from pointing out there’s a pig under there.

Whether he succeeds depends on whether he can convince enough people there’s enough of an emergency to “rush the thing through” before anyone has a chance to read and debate the details.

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