Principles and politics at odds 
in health care and budget debates

Ready. Fire. Aim.

Some 42 consecutive misses and they’re still reloading.

The Daily Sentinel put it this way in a Sunday editorial about the implications of holding a federal budget resolution hostage to defunding the Affordable Care Act.

“It allows the Republican Party to take careful aim and shoot itself directly in the foot.” At least it’s a target Republicans can hit.

The slippery slide to the end of the world as we know it, according to GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives, begins a week from today when enrollment opens for what they derisively term “Obamacare.” The apocalypse is expected three months later, on Jan. 1, 2014, the deadline for actual coverage.

Most of us, I suspect, expect to be around on Jan. 2, 2014. We consign those doomsday expectations to the same round file as similar predictions by various preachers and other predictors of world-ending events.

A wiser mind than mine once noted that the more politicians argue it’s about a principle, the more likely it’s not. Clearly these idle threats to defund the health care law are more about politics than principle, no matter how they’re couched for the umpteenth time as this ongoing game of chicken plays out on Capitol Hill.

As one of our local docs, a past president of the Colorado Medical Society, has written on these pages, the basic idea behind “Obamacare” was first advanced by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Dr. Michael Pramenko has also noted that, more recently, J.D. Kleinke of the conservative American Enterprise Institute had this to say in a New York Times op-ed piece.

“The core drivers of the health care act are market principles formulated by conservative economists, designed to correct structural flaws in our health insurance system — principles originally embraced by Republicans as a market alternative to the Clinton plan in the early 1990s.”

What’s happened since then? Well, elections do have consequences. 

A Democrat replaced an unpopular GOP president, and Congress, once controlled by his party became a divided legislative body with the House firmly in Republican control and the Senate the domain of Democrats. Colorado shifted from a red to a purple and finally a blue state with 6 of 9 members of the state’s congressional delegation now Democrats and the GOP searching for someone, anyone, to reverse a two-term run of Democratic governors.

A cynic, and perhaps some others, might say today’s politics now override yesterday’s principles in the health care battle.

Don’t you suppose that Rep. Scott Tipton, if he’d made 42 unsuccessful efforts to market a product in his Cortez pottery business, would switch gears and seek more productive items to push? Yet our own congressman is a reliable vote, on “principle,” to block funding for the Affordable Care Act, despite warnings from Senators in his own party like Tom Coburn of Oklahoma that “it’s not a tactic that we can actually carry out and be successful,”

Tipton and fellow Republicans have also adopted the mantra that Obamacare should be dumped in favor of some undefined “patient-centered” health care plan. Deep down, I suspect our congressman and others are smart enough to know that, just as you can’t beat somebody with nobody, you can’t swap something for nothing.

If this was about principle rather than politics, if there was a genuine concern about the millions of Americans without health insurance who boost the premiums of the insured by using emergency rooms for primary care, if there was a genuine belief that there was a better way, wouldn’t you expect to see some details? 

Seems to me that might be a more principled rallying point that just being “the party of ‘No’” and seeing approval ratings of Republicans in Congress in the dumpster.

Bet on this. Efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act will be unsuccessful. Republicans, afraid of the political consequences, will sooner or later blink and the federal government won’t be shut down. Proving, as has the GOP change of heart since the early 1990s, the following:

“You can’t learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.” — W. Somerset Maugham.

Jim Spehar has learned, in his public and private lives, just how hard it is to stand by principles. Your thoughts are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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In his latest “Update”, 3rd C.D. “Tea Party” Congressman Scott Tipton piles still more manure onto the mountain of misinformation regarding the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) already being circulating by his fellow-Repugnicans to their gullible constituents.

Tipton coyly claims to be “committed to voting to stop Obamacare any way [he] can, and replacing it with a patient-centered solution”—disingenuously suggesting to his patsies that Repugnicans advocate an actuarially viable alternative to ObamaCare.

However, Tipton’s reference to “a patient-centered solution” is merely empty rhetoric, because – after three years and 43 votes to repeal and/or de-fund the ACA – cynical   Repugnicans have offered no genuine solutions, much less ”patient-centered solutions”.

The only proposal that comes close is the Orwellian-titled “Empower Patients First Act of 2013” (H.R. 2300) re-introduced by Representative Tom Price (R-Ga) in June. 

H.R. 2300 would entail increased deficit spending by federal and/or state governments (or huge off-setting tax increases) – to further subsidize private health insurers (which could still “cherry-pick” insureds based on “pre-existing conditions”).  Its tort reforms would have little impact on overall health care costs, and inter-state portability of health insurance policies – without federal regulation of insurers—would undermine the current state-by-state regulatory scheme and incite a counter-productive “race to the bottom”.

Moreover, H.R. 2300 mimics the approach that previously failed in California, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina – precisely because insurers could still “cherry-pick” the healthiest insureds, relegating all others to “high risk pools” in which premiums rose unaffordably because there was no mandate to spread the risk without discrimination.

As Jim Spehar aptly reports, the ACA embraces the “conservative” market-driven approach that was successfully implemented in Massachusetts—which mandates participation, prohibits “cherry-picking”, and creates genuinely competitive health insurance “exchanges”.

Thus, ObamaCare would undoubtedly be more popular today had it been titled the “Health Insurance Reform Act”.

Everybody’s favorite MSM “liberal” political hack, Jim Spehar, demonstrates yet again that he is totally out of the loop on medical care in America by appearing to shill for the mathematical, medical and political fraud of Obamacare, which, according to Forbes magazine (http://onforb.es/1bB2BIl) will increase health spending by $7,450 for a typical family of four.
Depending on the report you read, America ranks 46th among the world’s countries in longevity and 92nd in overall healthfulness despite spending more money on health care than all the rest of the world’s countries combined. What are we getting for our money?
According to a report titled “Death By Medicine” (http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/aug2006_report_death_01.htm) on the Life Extension website, government-sanctioned medicine is the leading cause of American deaths. According to reports in The Journal of the American Medical Association and the federal Center for Disease Control which tracks such statistics, government-sanctioned medicine infects, injures, or kills some 15 million patients per year. As with most things Big Brother gets involved in, that clearly indicates a corrupt and failed system.
This is NOT to disrespect individual doctors personally. The several I am friends and/or acquainted with, are wonderful people. It’s just that, like government teachers, most of them are ignorant in the subjects of Economics 101 (central banking, debt-based legal tender, etc), Politics 101 and Constitution 101. If they weren’t, the American culture would not be in the mess we’re in.
Benjamin Rush, America’s first Surgeon General, and personally appointed by George Washington, said, “Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution the time will come when medicine will organize itself into an undercover dictatorship. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men [doctors - JW] and deny equal privileges to others will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic.” With such as forced Big-Pharma-enriching vaccinations, the emminent Dr. Rush’s fears have become far too many Americans’ nightmare.
“Natural medicine is under siege, as pharmaceutical company lobbyists urge lawmakers to deprive Americans of the benefits of dietary supplements and bioidentical hormones. Drug-company front groups have launched slanderous media campaigns to discredit the value of healthy lifestyles. The FDA continues to interfere with those who offer natural products that compete with prescription drugs.” ~  Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD.
If Americans want to ever get serious about health care reality and its unconscionable costs, they need to abolish the FDA, fire petro-chemical-funded politicians and put a Freedom of Self-Medication amendment into the U.S. Constitution. All else is meaningless sophistic propaganda blather.

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