Debunking Health Care Reform Myths

The following article originally was published by the August 31 edition of Grand Junction’s Free Press.

Debunking health reform myths

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Advocates of Barack Obama’s health proposals claim they want to debunk myths surrounding the health reform debate. We’re happy to oblige.

Myth #1: Opponents of Obamacare are the ones creating myths.

True, some have made exaggerated claims about “death panels.” However, rationing is indisputably part of any political health program. More subsidized health care leads to more indiscriminate use of the health system, which leads to skyrocketing costs. The inevitable “solution” is rationing.

If you think that those running a political, tax-funded health system will never deny treatment to those who claim to need it, then you are either a liar or a fool.

Myth #2: Opponents of Obamacare are “anti-health care reform.”

A recent article in the Huffington Post claims that “opponents of Democratic health care legislation” are “anti-health care reform,” which is nonsense.

What Obama offers is not “reform,” but merely more of the same sorts of political controls that caused existing problems in medicine. Continued tax distortions promoting expensive, non-portable, employer-paid insurance. More political controls that jack up insurance premiums. Probably laws outlawing low-cost, high-deductible policies. More forced wealth transfers.

Real health reform means respecting liberty and individual rights in medicine. It means respecting people’s rights to control their own resources and enter into voluntary agreements. Politicians should neither compel interactions, as through insurance mandates, nor forbid them.

The proper role of government is to enforce individual rights, which means to protect people from force and fraud and otherwise leave them free to lead their lives according to their own best judgment.

Real health reform means recognizing the individual’s moral right to his or her own life. Obama’s fake “reform” means politicians and their appointed bureaucrats telling people what to do.

Advocates of real health reform want expanded Health Savings Accounts with low-cost, high-deductible insurance, rolled back insurance controls, containment of health welfare, and tort reform.

Ironically, Obama lied in the very sentence in which he accused his opponents of lying, when he called for “an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are.”

Don’t let Obama get away with his outright distortion that the only alternative to the existing system is a more-politicized one.

Myth #3: Opponents of Obamacare are criminals, thugs, and mobs.

Early on the morning of August 25, two people smashed eleven windows at Democratic Party Headquarters in Denver. The windows were adorned with posters endorsing Obamacare.

Democratic Chair Pat Waak quickly lashed out: “Clearly there’s been an effort on the other side to stir up hate. I think this is the consequence of it.”

Clearly Waak jumped to conclusions to demonize critics of Obamacare. Unfortunately for Waak, Denver police caught one of the alleged perpetrators.

Police arrested Maurice Schwenkler, a Democratic operative, left-wing radical, and gay-rights activist. During the last election, a Democratic 527 group paid Schwenkler $500 to campaign for a Democratic state-house candidate. Who’s “stirring up hate” now, Waak? (See for details about the story.)

It is true that some Obamacare protesters have gotten overly heated at public forums. That happens among the left and right. It is also true that the vast majority of those who oppose Obamacare are thoughtful, peaceable citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

Myth #4: We need Obamacare to give everybody health care.

Most Americans already have great access to the best health care in the world. The biggest problem is that, due to political controls that have squashed competition and jacked up premiums, many cannot afford health insurance.

As Cato’s Michael Tanner points out, of the roughly 46 million uninsured, 12 million are eligible for existing health welfare, 10 million are non-citizen immigrants, and “most of the uninsured are young and in good health.”

Is it any wonder that some young, healthy people decline to purchase expensive insurance premiums through which politicians force them to subsidize the health care of others?

Americans understandably don’t want to let people die in the streets without care. That’s why we should expand Health Savings Accounts and roll back insurance controls — then more people could afford insurance without busting the budget. We wouldn’t need nearly as much charity if politicians would stop interfering with people’s ability to get health care.

Extensive health welfare programs exist now. Government spends nearly half of all health care dollars, especially through Medicare and Medicaid. Cover Colorado subsidizes high-risk insurance.

Ultimately, we advocate a return to voluntary charity, which remains a strong force in America even though political welfare has largely displaced it. If you think others should donate to a health charity, then persuade them, don’t hide behind armed IRS agents and threaten to throw people in prison if they don’t pay up.

We want everybody to be able get good health care. We want politicians to respect people’s rights. That is why we reject Obama’s health reform myths.

[Update: Cato’s Michael Tanner debunks a fifth myth, Obama’s claim that “If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period.” Among other things, Obamacare would outlaw high-deductible plans.]