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Oops-care

Obamacare victimizes Americans, but politics means never having to say you’re sorry

FEBRUARY 27, 2014 by GEORGE C. LEEF


 

Remember the glowing, utopian talk about the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” back in 2009–10? We heard constantly that it was the solution to a national crisis, carefully contrived to guarantee high-quality insurance for virtually everyone without making anyone worse off.

And so the great mountain of a bill was quickly passed while the Democrats held unchallengeable control. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi breezily said, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Now we know that she actually meant, “We have to pass this before people find out what it will do to them.”

Day by day, we discover what is in Obamacare—pain and angst for many ordinary Americans as the law’s numerous edicts kick in. The February 24 Wall Street Journal featured an article right on point, “Obamacare and My Mother’s Cancer Medicine" by Stephen Blackwood. (Disclosure: I know Mr. Blackwood, but this piece would be exactly the same if we had never met.)

The article shows how damaging the law has been to his mother, who is stricken with carcinoid cancer. She had been covered by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy for 20 years and it served her needs well. “It was expensive,” Blackwood writes, “but given that it covered her very expensive treatments, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medicines that were keeping her alive.”

But then Obamacare came crashing down, requiring BC/BS to cancel Mrs. Blackwood’s plan last fall. Since that time, she has been through a nightmare trying to find new coverage. The plan she eventually had to go with seemed satisfactory, but just before she had surgery on February 12, she was informed that the insurer would not, in fact, cover her medications. Mrs. Blackwood is living on the precipice, and turmoil over insurance is the last thing she needs.

Why would the Congress and President Obama put a sick person through such difficulty? Why did they inflict what Blackwood aptly calls “a Procrustean disaster” on the many Americans who have had stable and satisfactory medical care arrangements shredded by government meddling?

Of course, none of the backers of the hilariously misnamed PPACA meant to harm people like Mrs. Blackwood. They meant well—or so they all say. They wanted to solve the problem of people who had to get by without health insurance. The bill simply had to be passed immediately.

Consequently, there couldn’t be any of the customary hearings on legislation that would have allowed experts to carefully examine the bill's workings and think through the likely results—not just the nice-sounding intended ones. Slow, deliberate debate over the bill's provisions would no doubt have revealed that it would have lots of harmful side effects, like the cancellation of plans that cancer patients were relying on.

Rushing Obamacare into law was the governmental equivalent of a doctor giving a patient a completely untested drug.

Any Democrat in Congress could have said, “I don’t care if my party’s leadership insists on this, I won’t vote for it until the bill has been carefully examined, and since it’s over 2,500 pages, that can’t be done quickly.” Too bad that there were no “profiles in courage” who stood up for caution and common sense.

Once the severe side effects began to manifest themselves, President Obama gave an interview in which he offered a wishy-washy pseudo-apology to the people victimized by his Great Leap Forward. “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurance they got from me,” he said. I’m sure that the Blackwood family and many others found those words to be soothing.

Let’s think about this situation from a different angle. Suppose that you had a problem at your house—a shaky shelf in your garage. Your neighbor noticed it one day while the two of you were talking in the driveway. The next day, unbidden, he came over, entered your garage, and tried to fix the shelf. But in doing so, he caused it to collapse on your car. Tools and cans of paint fell on it, doing considerable damage.

What would you expect him to do?

You would expect him to apologize sincerely for the intrusion, make amends for the damage he caused, then meekly promise not to bother you again. Most Americans, acting as regular people, would behave just that way.

Obamacare is like the busybody neighbor’s unwanted “help.” Unbidden, a group of arrogant politicians, supremely confident that they knew how to improve society through a maze of taxes and mandates and prohibitions, has harmed many of the people they supposedly represent. But don’t expect any apologies, much less a making of amends, and much, much less a promise to leave you alone in the future.

Politicians almost never act like, as Obama might say, “regular folks.” They don’t apologize and make amends. The President isn’t really sorry about messing up the lives of people like Mrs. Blackwood; all he is sorry about is that some Americans now realize they’re the eggs to be broken so he can make his omelet.

Other politicians responsible for giving us Obamacare are just trying to change the subject. Here in North Carolina where I live, Senator Hagan avoided Obama when he visited the state recently and is running smiley face ads telling voters that she’s in favor of “investing in education.”

I cannot remember any instance when a politician owned up to a mistake and said to his constituents, “I supported that bill (or that war, or that appointment), but now I can see what a blunder it was. I’m sorry and will try to undo the damage I have caused.”

Politicians almost never admit their mistakes and correct them, which is an excellent reason why we should keep politics out of as much of life as possible.

ABOUT

GEORGE C. LEEF

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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