Monday, March 27, 2017

The AHCA, ObamaCare Without Obama, is Dead. Good Riddance

The AHCA is dead, at least for now—and good riddance. No bill is better this this one. Despite being sold as a “free market reform” package, it was just another statist scheme with a sprinkling of free market nuggets. It was literally ObamaCare without Obama.

Nevertheless, I used the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s reporting by Jonathan D. Salant on the failure of the American Health Care Act (Trump dealt huge loss as Republicans pull Obamacare repeal bill) to make a couple of important points. Below are a couple of excerpts from the article followed by my posted comments:

In an attempt to win the support of more conservative members, the legislation eliminated the requirement that all insurance policies cover outpatient services, emergency care, hospitalization, maternity benefits, mental health and drug treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, laboratory services, preventative treatment such as annual checkups, and pediatric dentistry and vision care.

I left these comments:

While I think the AHCA was a bad bill and I’m glad it was defeated, the elimination of benefit mandates was unequivocally a good feature.

The government has no right to dictate what kind of policies insurers can offer and no right to force consumers to buy coverage that they judge to be unnecessary, unneeded, or unaffordable. These kinds of decisions are morally the responsibility of insurers and individual consumers to make based on mutually voluntary contracts.

These mandates don’t only violate the rights of insurers and their customers. They drive up the cost of the policies, defeating the purpose of real health insurance, which is to protect against unforeseeable catastrophic financial calamities. The artificially inflated costs, in turn, generate increasing demands for subsidies. The mandates amount to forced redistribution of wealth through private intermediaries—the fascist approach to socialism. They turn health insurance into a pre-paid health scheme with an extra layer of bureaucracy for routine, foreseeable health expenditures, destroying market discipline on pricing. Nobody in their right mind would want to pay an inflated premium to an insurance company to pay for services he can plan for and pay directly for.

These mandates and others violate the individual’s right to act on her own judgement according to her own rational self-interest, and should be eliminated. They are immoral and impractical economically and, by favoring some at the expense of others, divide us into victims and exploiters, undermining civility and mutual respect that is the only basis for true national unity.

“Trumpcare is Robin Hood in reverse, taking benefits and financial assistance from hard-working middle-class Americans and our most vulnerable in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest and corporations,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the leader of the floor debate on the Democratic side.

Actually, eliminating subsidies and the taxes that support them would be perfectly consistent with the legend of Robin Hood.

In Robin Hood’s day, people got rich by looting the peasants under cover of law (taxes) to pad their own and their cronies’ nests. Robin Hood was a man of justice. He took the loot from the thieving aristocrats and gave it back to the peasants who earned it.

Today, people including the rich by and large earn their wealth through productive work, enterprise, and market trade. ObamaCare taxes and subsidies, like all redistribution schemes, are no different than what Robin Hood fought against—the practice of looting the productive under cover of law and handing the loot to people who didn’t earn it. Reducing the ObamaCare taxes and subsidies effectively “takes” from the people who receive the loot and returns it to its rightful owners, the people who earned it. So that feature of the GOP bill actually is a Robin Hood feature, not “Robin Hood in reverse.”

Related Reading:

What Does It Mean to Have a 'Right' to Health Care?—Sheldon Richman for

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