by Robert Maynard
With with the roll out of the Obamacare exchanges resembling the Titanic approaching an iceberg at ramming speed, Democratic leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have taken to reminding the nation that their real target is single payer. As if on cue, Governor Shumlin has chimed in with the suggestion that single payer is the way out of this mess. Here is what he had to say on the subject curtesy of Peter Hirschfeld:
“If ever there is an example in this nation … for why we need to take the Affordable Care Act and make it even better,” Shumlin said, “it is evidenced across this country by the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.”
But he said single-payer health care is his gubernatorial imperative, and that lawmakers must begin “plowing the ground” in 2014 for a publicly financed system he says will be online by 2017.
So, let me get this straight. The move toward Obamacare is step toward greater government control over our health care system and it is tanking. Governor Shumlin seems to think that the problem is that Obamacare does not go far enough in this direction and to make it even better we need a full blown, Canadian style, single-payer system. What we have hear is a failure to question the basic premise when it is obvious that the solution being proposed is making the situation worse. The basic premise behind the left’s drive to a complete government take over of our health care system is that the problem with the current system is that “no one is in charge” and the solution is to put a government appointed board in charge to gain “stewardship” over a system in chaos. True North pointed this out in an article, which pulled those quotes from a Democratic forum in Burlington addressing. This is the fundamental difference between the left and their conservative/libertarian critics when it comes to health care reform. The advocates of health care freedom see a vast system that is too complex to be run from the top down by a government bureaucracy and seeks to put decision making power in the hands of individual patients and their doctors. We view that approach as not only more efficient, but more humane. There have been many free market health care reform proposals put forward by various sources with that as the starting point. Instead of asking whether the problems we are encountering with the Obamacare roll out are a result of going in the wrong direction on health care reform, its advocates are suggesting that we continue full speed ahead in the same direction. Instead of turning the Titanic around to avoid the iceberg, they want us to let them push the gas pedal the rest of the way to the floor.
Are the problems associated with the ObamaCare rollout a result of too little government control over our health care system? If that was the case, one would expect that the Vermont rollout would be doing better. After all, Vermont has chosen a path that is a closer stepping stone toward the holy grail of a single payer system. The problem is that, if anything, the roll out of the Vermont Exchange is an even bigger mess than the ObamaCare exchanges. The mess that Vermont has made of its own exchange rollout has been documented in great detail by Vermonters for Health Care Freedom in a series of newsletters.
The real problem that we are facing is that centralized control over our health care decisions by an unelected and unaccountable government bureaucracy is a bad idea in principle and is destined to fail. We cannot afford to let the same cast that got us in the current mess we are in keep going in the same direction, but at an accelerated pace. Doing so would defy common sense and basic logic. It is time that we stepped back from this train wreck and tried a new approach that puts health care decision making power in the hands of patients and doctors. As mentioned earlier, there are numerous sources that have put forward such proposals. Here in Vermont, the Ethan Allen Institute has done so, as did GOP 2012 candidate for Governor Randy Brock. We need to tell the crew in Montpelier and reconsider the direction they are taking us with health care reform and whether that direction is itself the problem. Up until now, the public debate has not been over the fundamental direction of health care reform. That will have to change if we are to get out of this mess.