Healthcare Reform Is a Lump of Coal

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Last week on
Christmas Eve, after many backroom deals were made, the Senate passed
the healthcare reform bill with a strictly partisan vote. I was
pleased that my colleagues in the GOP are on the right side of this
bill. Although this vote was a major step in healthcare reform becoming
reality, they still have to reconcile the Senate bill with the House-passed
version in conference committee. This could prove even more difficult
and costly than the Senate vote.

There was a
little bit of controversy surrounding one particular Senator who
was initially against the bill, but then, coincidentally, a large
amount of Medicare funding specifically for his state was tucked
inside and he ended up voting for it. One wonders how much more
of that will have to go on to achieve final passage.

But this is
how politicians in Washington deal with problems: they throw your
money at them. Healthcare reform is no different. The Senate version
of the bill, at last count, will cost $871 billion. The House version
tops $1 trillion. But they tell us this is for the health of Americans,
and how dare we count the cost?

Such is the
arrogance of politicians. There seems to be no end to the problems
they feel capable and duty-bound to solve through legislative proclamation
and plenty of your money. To hear them talk, one might think that
a few words spoken on Capitol Hill would make problems just disappear.
All it takes it good intentions.

But no good
can come from 2400 pages of Washington’s good intentions.

I have observed
quite the opposite throughout my political career in the House of
Representatives, and fear that with this immense legislation, our
healthcare problems are only just beginning. Over the last few decades,
I have seen healthcare subjected to more and more creeping red tape
that only creates bottlenecks and increases costs as new bureaucratic
hurdles are put in place.

Politicians
cannot solve the problems created by ever-increasing intervention
by exponentially increasing their intervention. Similarly, they
cannot improve the quality of healthcare and expand access to it
for all Americans simply by legislative decree. If only it were
that simple! The reality is the free market, when allowed to function,
naturally increases access and drives prices down through competition.
The free market keeps service providers accountable by allowing
people to take their business elsewhere.

This government
intervention will eventually create a near monopoly of providers
in health insurance as smaller companies are squeezed out and innovation
comes to a grinding halt due to formidable barriers to entry. The
government will determine prices and levels of service that will
apply to everyone, regardless of want or individual circumstances.
The true insurance model of healthcare cost management, meaning
major medical coverage only, will basically become illegal. Opting
out of the system will incur heavy tax penalties.

Expanding government
reach so deeply into this very sensitive area of our personal lives
and such a major part of our economy means more opportunities for
waste, fraud and abuse of the system. One need only remember the
recent bailouts for an example of how government handles systemic
waste, fraud and abuse.

So while the
Senate patted itself on the back last week for delivering a Christmas
gift to Americans, time will prove it was instead a great big lump
of coal.

See
the Ron Paul File

December
29, 2009

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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