An advocate of ObamaCare and Medicaid attempted to attach the label “pro-life” to support for those programs. In a letter published on July 29, 2017 in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Dianne Douthat wrote “If you’re pro-life, here’s something you should know.” That opening statement is followed by a litany of Medicaid beneficiaries, as if any good end somehow justifies whatever means happened to be employed. The letter concludes:
Without Medicaid, millions of American lives — including infants, children, the elderly, veterans and addicts — will be in danger. How is it possible that the [Republican] party that says it’s prolife is also looking to dismantle a program that sustains life?
It’s time for our senators who proclaim they are pro-life to prove it. It’s time to put people before politics, and before tax cuts, and improve, not dismantle, the ACA and Medicaid coverage. If you’re pro-life, take action— contact your senators today. [sic] [NOTE: A version of this letter appeared in Wayne Patch under the title If you're Pro -Life.]
First of all, let’s get honest: The Republican Party is not looking to dismantle Medicaid (unfortunately). Far from it. It plans to increase Medicaid spending, but at a slower rate than current law, with its built-in automatic increases. According to CNN Money, the now defunct Republicans’ Senate scheme would have increased Medicaid spending by 18% over the next ten years. The GOP plan is only a cut “in budget parlance,” as the New York Times put it with a straight face. Medicaid apologists whine that the slower growth would result in fewer people being covered by the program. True. An ever-growing Medicaid budget will inevitably suck more people into dependence, which of course welfare statists welcome. But, coupled with free market reforms, Medicaid reduction would mean more people would find private insurance cheaper and more affordable, should they choose to buy it. This, not an ever-expanding parasite class, should be the goal.
As to the more important issue, Douthat’s got it backwards. The true test of a “pro-life” person is, “does she leave people free to self-govern according to their own judgement—including the freedom to say ‘no’ to another’s charitable crusades?” Pro-life answers yes. Douthat answers no, and thus fails this test. Medicaid fails this test. Douthat and Medicaid are not pro-life.
Medicaid starts with armed government aggression against productive people, via the taking of the earnings of the productive people through taxes to fund Medicaid. Is this what Douthat means by “put people before politics?” Are taxpayers not people?
Is stripping these individuals of their right to decide if, when, whom, and in what capacity to help others—and instead forcing them to fund whom politicians think should be “helped”—what Douthat means by “put people before politics?”
Is forcing doctors, the people we depend upon to provide the medical service, into the position of having to turn away patients or treat people at a loss because of prices dictated by politically-appointed government bureaucrats what Douthat means by “put people before politics?” Are doctors not people?
Decades of government interference into medicine and health insurance, including through programs like Medicaid, has driven the cost up so high that one in four people can’t afford it without Medicaid. Is this what Douthat means by “put people before politics?”
Douthat is right that the problem is people versus politics. But she’s got it exactly backwards. The problem isn’t people. It’s politics. Millions of people sweat out over their health coverage, as Republicans seek to place minor restrains on these out-of-control programs, and Democrats can do no better than to mercilessly demonize the other party. The fact that so many people’s health coverage is at the mercy of goings-on in Washington is precisely because the politicization of medicine has put politics over people—people’s money and rights.
Douthat provides a litany of beneficiaries but not a word about the victims of Medicaid, which includes many of Medicaid’s alleged “beneficiaries”—people priced out of the market by government interference or forced onto ObamaCare after ObamaCare outlawed their existing policies. Not a word about the dreadful consequences of continuing on the path of ever-expanding, unrestricted growth of American welfare statism, not just Medicaid but all of the other “helpful” programs. But Douthat’s “good” intentions don't justify the corrupt means. As Thomas Aquinas taught, a good intention can never redeem a bad action. Pro-life means the right to life. The right to life is more than treating humans like caged animals, meeting their basic needs but no more. It’s about being in control of one’s own life, and the freedom to act on one’s own judgement in pursuit of the values one judges to be necessary to achieve good, flourishing life—that is, happiness—without having to seek permission and without coercive interference. Douthat doesn’t respect these fundamental, individual human rights. and so she can no more claim the label “pro-life” than Republicans who deny a woman’s right to reproductive freedom under the same empty slogan. Only proponents of liberty can give real meaning to the term “pro-life.”
Douthat claims that these programs “sustain life.” But that’s not true. Productive individuals, free to earn and keep money, wealth, and property in a free market of voluntary trade, sustain life. Need alone cannot satisfy human need. Only productive, purposeful action can satisfy human needs. That’s why putting need above productiveness (and the freedom productiveness depends upon) is anti-, not pro-, life. Parasites on and exploiters of the productive are a drag on, not sustainers, of life. Every new program drains wealth from the pockets of the private sector, pushing more and more people into the “needy” camp, leading to calls for yet another and then another new welfare program to “help” these folks—folks forced into the needy camp by similar prior programs. And each of these existing programs trigger regular calls to expand them, as ObamaCare did with Medicaid. The assault on the productive intensifies in a never-ending cycle. That’s why socialism always leads to increasing economic paralysis, spreading poverty, and ultimately collapse into widespread destitution. When productiveness is sacrificed to need, the ultimate result is shrinking productiveness and widening need, with the final result being unfilled needs. Private charity programs rest on productiveness, and are sustainable and valuable when completely voluntary and private. Government-imposed programs like Medicaid and its ilk are the opposite. They are malignant social cancers because based on force rather than voluntarism. Force is ant-life.
If you really want to “put people before politics,” get politicians out of regulating medicine. Stop them from putting the healthcare security of increasing millions of Americans at the mercy of forcing higher taxes and regulations on their fellow citizens. Stop them from forcing some people to pay for other people’s healthcare, in effect making some the slaves to the needs of others. It’s morally corrupt at its core. Need before justice is inhumane. “a good intention can never redeem a bad action.” Eliminate Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, and all the rest of the “helpful” social programs politicians created; eliminate controls an health insurers, doctors, and the rest of the medical profession; and leave doctors, insurers, and healthcare consumers and patients free to contract with each other voluntarily to mutual advantage, neither forcing anyone to buy services they don’t want nor being forced to pay for others against their will nor empowering anyone to force others to pay for hers.
We need free market healthcare. People before politics: for real.
America Before the Entitlement State—Yaron Brook and Don Watkin
Moral Health Care vs. Universal Health Care, by Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh for The Objective Standard