The Lost War Over Health Care

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Despite the Republican Party’s tremendous electoral success, pseudo-conservatives have chosen to ignore basic economics in favor of their constituents.

Although Democrats may have lost the battle in the 2016 elections, the recent Republican failure to repeal Obamacare goes to show that they have been winning the war over the hearts and minds of the American public ever since. Republican leadership was close to passing a “skinny repeal,” and the final push was defeated by a single vote.

Despite the media’s near constant “crying wolf” act, Republicans are in a better position electorally than ever before. Democrats, clumped in urban centers, appear to have grown “out of touch” with Middle America, and even with President Trump’s abysmal approval ratings are unlikely to retake the House or Senate anytime soon. However, the Republican party of today, eager to retain power and spearheaded by a populist demagogue, has squandered every chance to effectuate the conservative principles it espoused mere months ago.

Unlike the American people, the Republicans have lacked the chutzpah to “vote with their feet.”  The failed “skinny” (more like anorexic) repeal, while undoing the individual and employer mandates, would have maintained the obligation to cover pre-existing conditions, incentivizing consumers to wait until they become sick to purchase insurance. In doing so, it took no serious steps towards deregulation or dismantling the monopolistic health networks created under President Obama. It did not even touch Medicaid. The Republican bill was more reminiscent of Steve Bannon’s purported R-rated hobby than of quality legislation. And yet, this “show over substance” Hail Mary was still deemed too conservative to pass.

President Trump, along with some hardline conservatives, then attempted to appear unfazed, going so far as to claim that the Affordable Care Act’s impending collapse will be to the Republicans’ political advantage. Such a naïve rationalization, however, defies the golden rule of democracy: taking away benefits is much harder than doling them out.

The recent history of US healthcare calls to mind Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote: “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Nowhere is that more evident than in Mr. Obama’s expansion of Medicaid to 133% of the poverty line, mandated insurance coverage for those with costly and largely preventable pre-existing conditions, and trillion dollar subsidies, which have left medical costs ballooning and government coffers empty.

Cajoled by Comrade Barry Sanders’ promised “health care for everyone,” the American public has thrown future generations under the bus and health economics out the window. We were not fooled overnight. Over decades, Democrats carefully crafted their public message, utilizing social media, pointing to the socialist-leaning Nordic “utopias” as a case-study, and most of all, establishing a moral high ground.

Anyone who rejected government-run health care was greedy and hated the poor. Of course, they neglected to mention that “socialist” Nordic countries have incredibly low corporate taxes and can afford their welfare state only by heavily restricting immigration and maintaining extremely homogenous societies. The Democrats’ smoke and mirrors worked like a charm. In the United States, a nation founded on principles of personal freedom, 33% of voters today favor a total government takeover of health care (up from 21% in 2014), and this proportion is growing faster than the national debt.

If insurance markets are allowed to implode under their own weight (as Mr. Trump intends), desperate masses who once flocked to his hyperbolic promises will jettison all concern for Constitutionality, American values, or even basic economics in favor of a government care-package. It won’t matter anymore that America’s health care system has been, for centuries, the gold standard in medical innovations, research, accountability, patient-physician interaction, or end-of-life options. As long as progressives paint themselves as the saviors of the masses, statistics, logic, and budgets will pale in comparison.

When Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he not only forever cemented his legacy, but also the American public’s perception, and future, of health care. Republicans are left without any options (as are, incidentally, many Americans looking for health insurance these days). Sure, they can work with Democrats to keep the insurance market afloat through more subsidies, but such an approach would only further reinforce the government’s role in medical care. Either way, the nation has begun a long and painful march towards the unsustainable and unaccountable European model of health care.

In the age of social media, Constitutional principles are outweighed by emotional appeals, and no amount of Super PAC money, gerrymandering, or procedural Senate loopholes can overcome the tyranny of the majority. When Ceausescu, the dictator of Romania (who by no means should be considered a role model for personal liberty), became the first modern day leader to fully repay his country’s debts through austerity measures, the masses literally murdered him. Republicans, once defenders of the free market, fear repeating his mistakes, and today are more keen to debate tiny policy snags than a fundamental overhaul of health care or cutting back government intervention.

While our politicians keep up their constituent-pleasing spectacle, the American people are doomed to suffer rising premiums, worsening medical care, and an ultimate government takeover of health care.

 

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