Singing a sorry song

Apolo­gies for Oba­macare won’t undo the dam­age to lost health care free­dom

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Michael Taube

Have you heard the news? There’s a na­tion­wide apol­ogy tour go­ing on right now, and Pres­i­dent Obama is lead­ing it. The pres­i­dent is say­ing he’s “sorry” to those Amer­i­can fam­i­lies los­ing their health in­sur­ance ow­ing to the in­com­pe­tence and mis­man­age­ment of his plan, Oba­macare. It turns out his ad­min­is­tra­tion “fum­bled the roll­out” with Oba­macare and the Health­care.gov web­site, even though they sup­pos­edly “worked hard to try to make sure [they] im­ple­mented it prop­erly.”

Fas­ci­nat­ing. Oba­macare has been ef­fec­tive since March 23, 2010. So how could the gen­eral pub­lic ever ex­pect an ef­fi­cient roll­out when the Oba­macare staff only had three years’ ad­vance no­tice? Gosh, the nerve of some peo­ple to have such high ex­pec­ta­tions.

It also turns out, as the pres­i­dent said, “We weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were tak­ing place,” and changes are nec­es­sary. I could see that, es­pe­cially when they’re tak­ing away an in­di­vid­ual’s free­dom to choose a pre­ferred health care plan.

To be fair, Mr. Obama could have said some­thing like, “Sorry, but many Amer­i­cans are go­ing to be vic­tim­ized by Oba­macare. Don’t worry your pretty lit­tle heads about it, how­ever. As long as I’m pres­i­dent, ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be just fine. Now, who’s still all worked up about those Wash­ing­ton Red­skins and their nick­name? Any­one? Any­one?”

Then again, that mes­sage might have been a bit too clear for tin-eared crowds.

It’s re­ally nice (swell, even) that the pres­i­dent is apol­o­giz­ing for Oba­macare’s cur­rent dif­fi­cul­ties, but I’m afraid that sorry isn’t enough to make up for this mess.

For years, con­ser­va­tive and lib­er­tar­ian com­men­ta­tors con­stantly warned Amer­i­cans that Oba­macare would be costly and had ma­jor flaws. For in­stance, the law’s to­tal price tag could re­port­edly be close to $1 tril­lion, as well as an es­ti­mated loss of 80,000 jobs, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice.

Repub­li­cans also at­tempted to show Amer­i­cans why the White House’s health care plan wouldn’t work. What did they re­ceive in re­turn? Demo­cratic crit­i­cism that this was “Tea Party-in­spired” op­po­si­tion, and “real, mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans” would see the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits of the plan.

Nice try. You don’t have to be a Tea Party sup­porter to re­al­ize Oba­macare was the equiv­a­lent of an eco­nomic black hole. No Repub­li­can, from Ron­ald Rea­gan to Olympia J. Snowe, would have ever backed Mr. Obama’s health care de­ba­cle.

Alas, many Amer­i­cans didn’t pay at­ten­tion to these warn­ings. They also couldn’t re­sist the temp­ta­tion of hav­ing “free” health care at their dis­posal. There’s only one prob­lem: Oba­macare isn’t free.

I live in Canada, a coun­try with pub­licly funded health care (only 30 per­cent of health ex­pen­di­tures are pri­vate). There is a decades­old myth, per­pet­u­ated by Cana­dian lib­er­als and so­cial­ists who don’t know any bet­ter, that our health sys­tem is a model for other coun­tries to fol­low. Some U.S. Democrats have even sold this po­si­tion to mid­dle-class and im­pov­er­ished Amer­i­cans as a means of get­ting a new health care sys­tem.

Yet there is more than am­ple ev­i­dence that Canada’s sin­gle-payer sys­tem is in­ef­fi­cient and a bloated bu­reau­cratic night­mare. Var­i­ous re­ports from do­mes­tic think tanks (in­clud­ing the Fraser In­sti­tute, the C.D. Howe In­sti­tute, the Mon­treal Eco­nomic In­sti­tute and the At­lantic In­sti­tute for Mar­ket Stud­ies) have shown that it doesn’t help pa­tients, re­duce wait­ing times or in­crease op­por­tu­ni­ties for cer­tain med­i­cal pro­ce­dures.

Fi­nally, con­sider this re­veal­ing statis­tic. In a 2000 World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion study of 191 mem­ber coun­tries, the pre-Obama U.S. sys­tem placed 37th, while Canada’s health care sys­tem was ranked 30th — only seven places bet­ter. It’s true the study was crit­i­cized for its method­ol­ogy, and there are re­port­edly changes in the works. Still, no mat­ter how you slice it, a sin­gle-payer sys­tem is not the panacea the po­lit­i­cal left claims it is.

Amer­i­cans are be­gin­ning to learn that Oba­macare (which isn’t the same as Cana­dian health care, of course) is start­ing to de­velop sim­i­lar flaws. From the com­puter glitches af­ter Oba­macare was launched, to the lim­i­ta­tions of free­dom with re­spect to choos­ing or main­tain­ing a fam­ily physi­cian in cer­tain states, to the out­right loss of health in­sur­ance, this is a fi­nan­cial dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen.

That’s why some Democrats are join­ing with Repub­li­cans in op­pos­ing Oba­macare. It wouldn’t even sur­prise me if the pres­i­dent’s health care dream was ei­ther mas­sively re­formed, ag­gres­sively chopped or com­pletely elim­i­nated by 2014. Sorry, Mr. Pres­i­dent, but an na­tion­wide Oba­macare apol­ogy tour just isn’t go­ing to cut it.

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