EDITORIAL: Obamacare, Phase 2

Vermont embraces the politics of “free” health care

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Single-payer health care is the left’s holy grail. The term is a euphemism for replacing private insurers with a powerful government that prescribes the medicine and pays the bills. It’s how Britain and Canada do it, and soon, the idea could spread to Vermont, where the state Senate Finance Committee plans to vote Friday to advance “Green Mountain Care” to march the state yet closer to the single-payer dream.

Three years ago, the Vermont legislature adopted a suite of minimum health benefits for residents as a first step. This was a bold scheme trumpeted by Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat who campaigned on a platform of importing Canadian-style health care. “What we want to do here in Vermont,” he said, “is to ensure that health care is a right, not a privilege.” No one goes to Canada or Britain for advanced health care, which ought to tell Vermonters something.

The message is nevertheless powerful in Vermont, one of only a handful of states where President Obama’s approval rating is above water and where the state’s junior U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, is an out-of-the-closet Socialist. Vermont, which is more boutique than state, wants to be first with a single-payer system, though Avalere Health estimates that it will cost the state upward of $2.2 billion.

Giving away free stuff is great politics, as long as the recipients of the free stuff don’t understand they’ll be paying for it with higher taxes. Gov. Shumlin’s momentum for re-election has been blunted by his having to explain how he’ll pay for this generosity. State Rep. Jim Cordon, a Democrat, wants answers. “The deadlines for proposing financing have been missed two years in a row now,” he told Vermont Watchdog, “so to me that’s very disappointing. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that there is no financing plan.”

Free is popular, taxes aren’t. Paying for a $2.2 billion scheme will be difficult considering Vermont collects about $2.8 billion per year from its various income, sales and business taxes. There’s no way to provide “free” health care without doubling each of those sources of revenue. That will be a tough sell, even in a boutique where 67 percent of Vermonters voted to re-elect Mr. Obama.

The Obama administration gives no evidence that it cares that its health care numbers don’t add up. Before implementation of Obamacare, four out of every five Americans were satisfied with their health insurance. The White House plunged ahead anyway, imposing a broken scheme that has caused millions of Americans to lose their plans. Those lucky enough to keep them face enormous premium increases.

Government tinkering in the marketplace never turns out well, so with the election nearing Democrats recognize the need to “fix” Obamacare. There will be frantic calls for more government intervention to fix the problems created by government intervention. The left’s proposed “solutions” will look a lot like what’s being proposed in Vermont.

President Obama thinks he can make boutiques of the rest of the states, and there’s to be “a transition period” before single-payer kicks in. Asked whether Obamacare is that transitional step, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid answered emphatically: “Yes, yes. Absolutely yes.”

Vermont demonstrates there’s no such thing as free health care. Someone ultimately has to pay, so there’s a search for a way to double every tax with no one noticing. Liberals thought Vermonters would be perfect guinea pigs, to show that the government can run a health care system. Three years on, Vermont is proving once more, for all the slow learners, why the government should stay out of everyone’s health.

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