The drive-by media is attempting to gin up political hay for Democrats by accusing Andy Harris of hypocrisy. Last week, Andy Harris asked if he can pre-buy his health coverage from the FEHBP because he was told that he would not be insured until February. In response, the government run Democrat lobby, AFSCME, is calling upon Republicans to opt out of the "government-provided" health care benefits that are given to congressmen. These clowns are missing one basic point about the health care debate, which is partially exacerbated by a lack of articulation from most Republicans.
We all agree that the cost of health care and health insurance has skyrocketed (even before Obama Care, which is already causing severe increases in premiums) to the point that it is hard for individuals to pay for it on their own. However, the factors that are driving up those costs are all related to the 50 years of Democrat inducement of taxation, regulation, and litigation which has all but eliminated the free market from the health care industry. The result is that all of us (yes, even conservatives like Harris) must suffer with artificially high prices and are forced to rely on third parties to provide it; namely the employer. If the employer is the federal government, then they are even more responsible for providing coverage because they have destroyed health care insurance in this country.
The fundamental effect of the GOP's communication problem lies with the perception of most people that the Republicans own the status quo of health care, while the Democrats own the changes made by Obama Care. To that end, although the country strongly opposes the socialist takeover, they are also wary (and justifiably so) of the rising costs of health care and health insurance even without Obama Care. Unfortunately, the reality is that the Democrats own the problems with the current system as well as the disaster that will arise from the new system.
The Democrats have successfully protected their trial lawyers from any tort reform over the years. This has enabled them to drastically raise the cost of health care through skyrocketing malpractice insurance and scarcity of providers (as a result of their deterring presence).
In addition, they have so heavily regulated health insurance that it has ceased to work as a personal catastrophic insurance system and has instead morphed into a multiple party system that pays for all health care costs. Also, the Democrats always blame the high costs on the private sector and use it as an excuse to implement government health care. But the truth is that we already have socialist health care, and that is exactly why health insurance already costs so much. Between Medicare, Medicaid, S-Chip, the VA, and dozens of state programs, most health care is provided by the government. Add that to the restrictions of buying health insurance across state lines and we have a situation in which there is no free market and in which an abundance of third party payers arbitrarily and artificially inflate the price of insurance. Where does that leave a single young male or somebody with a large family of healthy individuals?
If liberals hadn't destroyed our health care system and concocted a maniacal system of third party payers for every (inflated) dollar of health care service, we would be able to shop for health insurance using the free market like every other service. Also, healthy males would be able to buy cheap insurance solely for catastrophes, while knowing that their standard annual health care expenses would be affordable. They wouldn't be forced into one large family plan that covers everything under the sun. However, the liberals have created a reality in which we are forced into such a system because the cost of health care is simply too high for someone to pay for routine health services on their own. They are forced to rely on employer-provided health insurance. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) explains the effects of mandated benefits and government intervention like this: “Mandating benefits is like saying to someone in the market for a new car, if you can’t afford a Cadillac loaded with options, you have to walk.”
Thus, someone like Andy Harris, no matter his degree of disdain for the current system, is forced to accept employer funded health insurance for his large family. Now that he will not be working at Johns Hopkins, he needs insurance coverage from his new employer, the US Congress. As Harris pointed out, the government is the first place which he has worked for that has not provided converge from the first month of employment. This was an astute illustration of the inefficiency of government run health care for its own employees, much less the entire country.
The real hypocrisy is with the left. Nancy Pelosi lamented the fact that people can't utilize their talents to become freelance writers and photographers because they need to rely on an employer to receive health coverage. The reality is that it is the liberals' ownership of Medicare, Medicaid, S-Chip, ambulance chasers, portability regulations, arbitrary benefit mandates, guaranteed issue, limitation of risk pool ratings, and culture of entitlement that have spiked the cost of health care for all Americans (both liberal and conservative). So maybe AFSCME will run a campaign to demand that every Democrat who complains about the cost of health care commit to reforming any one of their above-mentioned boondoggles. Don't hold your breath waiting.
Cross-posted to Red Meat Conservative