Liberals are a curious breed. They actually believe the government can mandate you into prosperity. They wave a magic wand, and the universe bends to their whim. At the end of each day, they rest their weary heads blissfully - willfully - unaware of the damage they cause.
Witness Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Before she was wielding the iron fist of power granted to her by Obamacare, she was the Kansas’ governor and, before that, the Kansas insurance commissioner. Health insurance mandates were her stock in trade, and with each new government dictate, Kansans saw their premiums increase. No matter how well-intentioned, the very nature of a mandate is that it forces consumers to buy something they don’t want, or why the need for a mandate? It’s unavoidable, then, that Kansas families’ costs increased and many simply could no longer afford insurance.
The net result? Mrs. Sebelius chased nearly a dozen health insurance companies out of the state, leaving behind 40,000 Kansans who no longer had health insurance. That President Obama would choose her to head HHS and implement Obamacare is telling and terrifying.
I reject the demonstrably destructive government-mandate approach to health care. Unfortunately, Mrs. Sebelius‘ ghost still haunts Kansas, and it’s the Republicans who are giving it life.
The Republican-dominated Kansas House of Representatives recently passed yet another Sebelius-style health insurance mandate, by an overwhelming margin, 92-30. The party that claims to stand against government-run health care is nonetheless voting for the government to run health care. The Republican-controlled Senate will take up the issue and, presumably, send it to Republican Gov. (and former presidential aspirant) Sam Brownback.
Proponents of these health care mandates always have sympathy on their side, and often good intentions, but little else. This particular mandate favors autistic children, and who doesn’t feel compelled to help anyone in need, particularly a child? Yet, as these politically popular mandates are imposed and health insurance premiums skyrocket, patients (and their family budgets) suffer.
I’ve been asked, by self-described conservatives, no less, how I can turn my back on children with autism. Excuse me? Having dedicated my life to serving patients and, like most doctors - and this is not an exaggeration - having freely donated my time to the needy probably every single day I work, I know their question reflects more upon them than me. But I also realize it is emotional appeals like this that quickly persuade squishy conservatives to do the bidding of big-government liberals. But the response to this tactic should be obvious.
How can the supporters of government mandates turn their backs on mothers with breast cancer or grandfathers with strokes or children with leukemia? Among the 40,000 Kansans priced out of health insurance by the toll of mandates were these very patients - and many others. The big-government crowd may be blissfully unaware of the damage their well-intentioned mandates cause, but the patients left behind without insurance know it all too well.
The mandate crowd claims it’s the “greed” of health insurance companies that leads them to “discriminate” against this year’s cause, but does that make sense? Is there a single company - or person, for that matter - who isn’t interested in maximizing its income? Surely auto insurance companies are just as greedy as health insurance companies, yet auto premiums stay low while health premiums explode. What’s the difference? Are we to believe auto insurance companies are run by altruistic angels but health insurance companies are run by greedy devils?
Kansans are allowed to purchase car insurance directly from any provider across the country, and you won’t find state mandates that force your auto insurance company to cover windshield-wiper blade replacements or oil changes. You also won’t find tax penalties that coerce you into buying auto insurance through your employer rather than on your own, but that’s another story.
So which is more effective at keeping costs lower and serving Kansans - the big-government health insurance mandates or the auto insurance free-market approach? Is there a single person who believes we have an auto insurance crisis in America?
All companies are greedy, if by greed you mean they hope to maximize profits. But the best antidote to greed is not government, it’s competition. Allow Kansans, in fact all Americans, to purchase whatever health insurance they choose. Quit dividing patients into political blocs. Eliminate all state mandates (and the tax penalties for directly purchasing insurance rather than employment-based, but again, that’s another story.)
State mandates, by their very nature, eliminate competition. It’s ironic that supporters of mandates don’t realize - or perhaps they do - that their approach creates oligopolies within each state where only a few large companies can operate and artificially drive up prices. The free-market approach, on the other hand, opens the door to innovative companies like Geico and Progressive, which have revolutionized auto insurance.
Every state faces this dilemma between destructive but poll-driven big-government mandates and demonstrably effective free-market reforms. If Kansas, one of the reddest of the red states - with a Republican-controlled House, a Republican-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled governor’s mansion - can’t stop the Barack Obama-Kathleen Sebelius government-knows-best approach to health care, which state can?
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.