Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Washington Times: Obama's health care programs will invite destructive anti-selection

The Washington Times today (Nov. 26) ran a blistering editorial “The coming health-care tsunami”, on p A20, link here. The editorial was particularly critical of mandatory plans with “community rating” or “shall issue” (that is, guaranteed issue) provisions that would cover those who “smoke, abuse drugs, or become obese.” (It's all too easy to imagine many other examples of this kind of argument, that don't need to be listed right here.) The editorial says that such requirements (essentially forced "anti-selection") would drive private insurers out of business and bring on a government monopoly.

According to the editorial, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) reportedly wants to expand Medicare to ages 55-64. He also wants every American to buy insurance through an Independent Health Insurance Council. Baucus has a “Call to Action” position paper (PDF) for 2009, link here.

On P A21 Washington Times contributor and syndicated columnist Tom Blankley has an op-ed piece (link here), “Obama’s health care czar: Tom Daschle book (written with Jeanne M. Lambrew, and Scott S. Greenberger, published by Thomas Dunne) lays out plan”. The book is titled “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis”, in which a new board, modeled after the Federal Reserve and SEC, would set up standards for health care.

All of this seems to do with how to make people with lower risk pay for those of higher risk, no matter how you package it. It creates social and personal confrontations that cannot be avoided. For social conservatives, that obviously loops back to the debates on "family values." But there is a bigger issue, of what will work for everybody. It gets to a point that ideology about "personal responsibility" just gets counter-productive.

The Editorial talks about Medicare and social security, but could have gone into the dimensions of the coming eldercare crisis, noting that Medicare does not normally cover custodial care. The end result is an increase in family responsibility (including likely future attempts by states to enforce "filial responsibility laws") for everyone, regardless of their own “choices” about having children. I’m surprised that the Washington Times hasn’t gone deeper into this. There is plenty of opportunity.

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