Another day, another unintentionally revealing quote from Jon ‘Hero of the Republic’ Gruber. Today the Daily Caller reports on an October 2009 lecture given by Gruber on the subject of Obamacare at the time when the legislation was working its way through Congress. Gruber lamented the lack of ‘cost controls’ in the bill.
Gruber also said that the only way to control costs is to effectively deny treatment.
“The real substance of cost control is all about a single thing: telling patients they can’t have something they want. It’s about telling patients, ‘That surgery doesn’t do any good, so if you want it you have to pay the full cost.’”
And who are these people telling patients “they can’t have something they want”? Answer: The Political Class, in particular, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Leftists respond that, prior to Obamacare, it was insurance companies who told people ‘they can’t have something they want.’ But this is why a free market in health insurance is preferable–the private market gives the individual a choice. If an individual does not like his plan, he can switch to a different one or choose a different insurer.
Of course, under the flawed American system, most private workers get insurance through their employer, which is less than ideal. But even employer-sponsored insurance offers some scope for choice because the employer can self-insure or negotiate with an insurance company on behalf of employees. And the employer has an incentive to negotiate a good plan because the employer wants to keep employees happy. Again, the system is not ideal, but individuals also sometimes exercise choice by switching jobs and choosing their employer on the basis of the specifics of the employer’s health plan.
Elitists like Gruber, however, want politicians, bureaucrats, and technicians like him to decide for most people what’s good for them. The rich, of course, will always be able to get whatever they want. But everybody else will have no choice but to accept whatever the elites decide they can have. The dependent underclass will have no choice because they’re not paying their own way. The government is paying, and he who pays the piper calls the tune. Likewise, the self-supporting middle-class will be too weighed down by taxes, high insurance premiums, and inflated costs to, as Gruber puts it, “pay the full cost” to get what they want.
Meanwhile, there’s considerable reason to fear that those bureaucrats deciding what insurance will and will not cover might succumb to regulatory capture. In that case, the bureaucrats will shape policy primarily to benefit the insurance and health industries, not the individual.
Gruber explained his vision by way of analogy:
“There’s no reason the American health care system can’t be, ‘You can have whatever you want, you just have to pay for it.’ That’s what we do in other walks of life. We don’t say everyone has to have a large screen TV. If you want a large screen TV, you have to pay for it. Basically the notion would be to move to a level where everyone has a solid basic insurance level of coverage. Above that people pay on their own, without tax-subsidized dollars, to buy a higher level of coverage.”
But this analogy is false. There is no government program to subsidize TV purchases at a “basic…level.” A much more appropriate analogy would be schooling. The government pays for people to attend ‘free’ public schools, while allowing those who want something else to ‘pay the full cost’ at private schools or by relocating to a different school district.
The affluent, of course, can always find access to decent schooling. But those who can’t afford to pay or to move have no choice but to accept the inferior schooling provided by the Political Class of unions, bureaucrats, and politicians. And that schooling can be dismal indeed, as attested by America’s many failing public schools.
The analogy to health care is direct. Under government plans and regulations, the poor and the middle class will lose choice and often have to accept inferior quality. The poor have trouble even finding a doctor who will accept Medicaid reimbursement rates. The middle class will bear the brunt of bureaucratic ‘cost control.’ Only the elites will exercise choice–while telling everyone else what’s good for them.
Elites like Jon Gruber and Paul Krugman and Barack Obama tell people how great Obamacare is, but actions speak louder than words, and the fact is that none of their families will ever use Obamacare. Those elites would never submit themselves to an Obamacare plan’s narrow and sometimes inferior network of providers. Nor would any of them ever check into a VA hospital.
It will never happen, but we wish some plucky reporter would ask Gruber or Obama, if Obamacare is so great, why doesn’t your family use it?
There is indeed something slightly sinister about all these statist elites advocating ‘mixed’ public and private systems such as health care and schooling. The public part allows them to subject the hoi polloi to oppressive state control, while the private part allows the elites to escape that same oppression.
The progressive elite talk a lot about “equality.” OK, here’s a challenge for them–if their state-run systems are so great, why not have everyone use the state system and nothing else? Let’s go full Mussolini: “Nothing outside the state.” Leave people with no alternative to public schools and Obamacare. That will put everyone on an equal footing. Let Obama do like Jimmy Carter and send his kids to DC public schools, and Paul Krugman can choose his health care providers from an Obamacare network.
C’mon guys! Now is the time to step up to the plate and to lead by example!