Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Obamacare Is Failing

Charles Krauthammer outlines the folly that is Obamacare and why the Democrats can't pass a bill.

What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality. As both candidate and president, the master rhetorician could conjure a world in which he bestows upon you health-care nirvana: more coverage, less cost.

But you can't fake it in legislation. Once you commit your fantasies to words and numbers, the Congressional Budget Office comes along and declares that the emperor has no clothes.

President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn -- surprise! -- that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats' health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs on the order of $1 trillion plus.

In response, the president retreated to a demand that any bill he sign be revenue-neutral. But that's classic misdirection: If the fierce urgency of health-care reform is to radically reduce costs that are producing budget-destroying deficits, revenue neutrality (by definition) leaves us on precisely the same path to insolvency that Obama himself declares unsustainable.

The Democratic proposals are worse still. Because they do increase costs, revenue neutrality means countervailing tax increases. It's not just that it is crazily anti-stimulatory to saddle a deeply depressed economy with an income tax surcharge that falls squarely on small business and the investor class. It's that health-care reform ends up diverting for its own purposes a source of revenue that might otherwise be used to close the yawning structural budget deficit that is such a threat to the economy and to the dollar.

Democrats have retreated to doing what they do best: blaming Republicans. Forget the fact that the number of Republicans in Congress gives "minority" a whole new definition. Somehow, those SuperRepublicans are defeating all the Democrats, like Batman plowing through 20 villians without getting so much as a smudge on his leotard.

No one in their right mind believes this blather, not even Democrats. The seating of clown Al Franken gives Democrats full responsibility for any laws created. It's inane to keep blaming Republicans for the fact that Democrats can't get their shit together.

Of course, Democrats could figure out how to contain costs if they would actually address tort reform, since jerks like John Edwards are more responsible for unnecessary operations than greedy doctors.
It’s interesting that President Obama discusses unnecessary operations as one of the causes of high health care costs. Do you know what the most often performed operation is in the United States? With heart disease being the number one killer in America, you might think it would be related to that, perhaps bypass surgery or angioplasty.

It’s cesarean section. In 1965, only 4.5 percent of children were delivered via c-section. Today, 31 percent are. That’s a huge increase for a procedure that was once reserved to emergency situations. And as the Los Angeles Times notes, it has resulted in “an explosion in medical bills, an increase in complications — and a reconsideration of the cesarean as a sometimes unnecessary risk.”

Doctors don't perform C-sections because it's better for the patient and baby. They perform so many because trial lawyers sue the pants off of doctors for less-than-perfect children that are born. If the doctors would just kill them in the womb, Democrats would be giving them awards. Instead, if a baby is born with cerebral palsy, you have slimy people like John Edwards who want to blame the doctor for it.

The billions this guy gets from doctors isn't paid by the doctor. It's paid by his malpractice insurer. Who then charges the doctor more. Who then charges you more.

But Democrats aren't going to reform the med-mal system. They want to talk about greedy doctors, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies. Lawyers? Why, they're protecting your interests (for 1/3 of all payouts).

If Democrats were serious about reforming health care, they wouldn't be trying to hard to hit the people who provide the services. They'd spend some of their bile on John Edwards and the guys who have helped drive up the cost of practicing medicine.

UPDATE: gets beaten to the protest punch.