PJ Media

ObamaCare's Redistribution of Health

The House’s latest iteration of ObamaCare now weighs in at 1,990 pages. That’s hundreds of pages longer than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s summer rendition. At the rate these people are churning out thousand-plus pagers (stimulus, cap and trade, health care, etc.), they’re going to have to build a separate wing of the Library of Congress just to hold this year’s production.

After sifting through the bill’s deliberately obfuscatory, favor-laden language, it is clear that the Democratic leadership wants to pretend that last Augusts town hall meetings, congressional budget watchers’ most recent cost estimates of up to $1.2 trillion (not “only” $894 billion), and Tuesdays key gubernatorial race results never happened. The elections of Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia were as much a rejection of establishment politics as usual and the specific policies and proposals of President Barack Obama and Congress as they were affirmations of the positive qualities of the victors. The establishment newspapers that obsessed over defeating Christie and McDonnell also extended the cycle of rejection they continue to experience in the form of reduced circulation. The Internet is certainly not the primary reason why the Washington Post’s and Newark Star-Ledger’s circulations are down 6% and 23%, respectively, in the past year.

As to the House bill, everything the populace has been loudly rejecting remains firmly in place.

Abortion? It’s still there; Planned Parenthood has in essence admitted it. Provisions Sarah Palin courageously and accurately characterized as de facto “death panels”? You betcha. Rules that force the termination of any private plan if it tries to change even minor provisions, effectively spelling what Investors Business Daily has called “the end of the private medical insurance market” a few months ago? Yes, according to Betsy McCaughey on Sean Hannity’s radio show last week.

Beyond that, as I have previously shown, ObamaCare is still a moral clunker. As has happened in statist health care systems elsewhere, it will inevitably lead to rationed care. That rationing will inevitably favor the currently healthy with longer lives ahead of them over the aged and seriously infirm. Finally, ObamaCare’s operations will be managed and/or heavily influenced by people who, as I said in August, “have frighteningly ghoulish outlooks on life and humanity.” To name just one example of many, there’s Zeke the Bleak Emanuel, who believes that “services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” That’s not “obvious” to me or to the vast majority of others, pal.

Of course, the latest House bill has the requisite tax increases on “the rich,” which really means “high income-earners” (politicians and the press really don’t seem to understand the difference). Employing what I consider to be the correct language of taxation, the bill, in combination with other increases that will occur next year unless proactively stopped, will increase the amount of federal income taxes paid by the highest income-earners by as much as 30%-50%. In a worst case scenario, it will reduce the effective take-home pay of some by as much as 30%-35%.

Taking a cue from the Massachusetts state-run disaster known as RomneyCare, the bill imposes penalties on individuals and families who don’t purchase mandated health insurance. As the Associated Press reports, these penalties “are described as taxes in the legislation.” That these penalties make mincemeat of Obama’s core 2008 campaign promise not to increase taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year seems not to matter. Thus, there is plenty of what Barack Obama in his more honest moments likes to call “redistributive change.”

But ObamaCare is not simply or even primarily about the redistribution of wealth. It’s about the redistribution of health.

That is why the “public option” remains in the House bill. That polls supposedly tell us that this “public option” remains popular is a testament only to the utter failure of ObamaCare’s opponents to describe and explain its true nature.

The “public option” is not about “competition.” It is about elimination. That “the uninsured” receive “coverage” is only incidental.

The newly conceived entity will more than likely not have to pay federal, state, or local income taxes, and may not have to pay a myriad of other taxes private companies must pay unless they wish to go out of business. This entity will often be in a position to use existing government-owned facilities instead of having to pay for its own. Some of its employees, overhead, and outside services may be charged to other sectors of the government. It may, because of sovereign immunity, be exempt from crippling lawsuits and related legal costs. This stack of playing field de-levelers constitutes what the bill’s sponsors call “competition.” It’s really a sick (pun intended) joke.

Thanks to these self-evident advantages and the restrictions the bill imposes on private plans, the “public option” will inevitably corral tens of millions of American individuals and families into its one-size-fits-all plan design, which will be the standard against which all surviving plans are judged. If a private plan is too generous, ObamaCare will either tax and penalize it until its sponsors bring it down to the same level, or kill it. If a private plan is too restrictive, regulations and penalties will force it up to the “public option” level or terminate it. Terminations will be rampant. If you dare try to step outside the box yourself and privately arrange for superior medical care for yourself or your family, even with your own resources or funds from charity, you can expect the full force of the “public option” and its friends at the IRS to come after you, your medical providers, and perhaps even those who provided financial kindness.

This is “redistributive health care justice.” Nobody will be able to get health care that is better than anyone else’s. Some of us may somehow still have a bit more money and wealth, but, with the exception of the elite, who always figure out a way around the peons’ restrictions, we’ll all be subject to one health care system.

That’s the openly stated goal. When rationing and other more serious side effects inevitably intrude, we will see that ObamaCare’s “fairness” will be in how it makes us all equally miserable.