The Return Of Socialized Medicineby Doug Mataconis
The death of Hillarycare may have set things back, but that doesn’t mean that some Democrats aren’t still thinking about turning the health-care industry into an arm of the state:
WASHINGTON — Several business and labor leaders on Wednesday hailed a proposal to provide health care coverage to all Americans through a pool of private insurance plans.
A dozen years after Congress rejected a Clinton administration plan for universal health care, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden offered a plan he said would provide affordable, private health care coverage for all Americans, except those covered through Medicare or the military.
“Employer-based coverage is melting away like a Popsicle on the sidewalk in August,” Wyden said.
Wyden, a Democrat and a member of the Senate Finance health care subcommittee, said his plan would “guarantee health coverage for every American that is at least as good as members of Congress receive and can never be taken away.”
And thus we are back to the beginning of the logical fallacies that have infected the debate over health care policy in the United States for the past several decades. First among these is the idea that health care is a right equivalent to the right to free speech or the right to life. The problem with this, of course, is that traditional understandings of individual rights merely require people to leave each other alone. The new understanding of rights, however, includes the right to demand that others — whether those others be employers or the government — provide you with benefits.
The second fallacy is the one implicit in all of these proposals, the idea that the free market is somehow to blame for the current state of American health care. If it weren’t for the fact that health care has been heavily regulated for at least the past 40 years, and the fact that government has been among the major provider of health care benefits during that time, this argument might actually make sense.
Reality, however, tells a different story. Thanks to government regulation and, in part, to an insurance system that shields consumers from the true costs of their health care choices, the medical industry is among the most distorted in America today. Blaming capitalism for the failure of a system that has been under the control and regulation of the state for so long is completely absurd.