Obama's Health Care Poison Pill

In his crusade to bring health care - one-sixth of the country's economy - under government control, President Obama is asking Americans to swallow a huge and potentially poisonous policy pill.

Just as many Canadian politicians and their families have, hypocritically, come to the U.S. when they prefer our advanced, private health care over their own socialized system, President Obama got caught last night in a "do as I say not as I do" moment. In a special broadcast on ABC, the president refused to pledge that he'd limit his own family to the tests and treatments that the general public would have to confine themselves to under his proposed health care "public option" restrictions.

Obama dismisses as "fear tactics" charges that his program amounts to "socialized medicine" similar to Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Yet, ironically, Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden are all beginning to open their socialized systems to private care due to citizen protests that critical treatments are delayed or denied. The past president of the Canadian Medical Association says that in Canada, "¦a dog can get a hip replaced in under a week but a human may wait two to three years."

None of this deters Obama from his insistence on government-run health care. And while he bases the need for reform on cost savings and universal coverage, the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that Obamacare would increase the federal deficit by more than $1.6-trillion over ten years even while leaving 30 million people uninsured.

This week, Obama is leading a charge to use Democrats to ram through draft health reform legislation in the Senate, excluding Republican input. Obama's rush to pass health care reform by August 1 is the centerpiece of his plan to do a "community reorganization" of America by putting more of the private sector under government control and tying the middle class to government with the major entitlement of health insurance.

But according to Michael Cannon, writing in National Review, "there aren't enough Americans earning more than $250,000 to finance [Obamacare] reform would mean higher taxes for the middle class, violating another promise Obama made during the presidential campaign." Further, "if Congress used Medicare's payment rates and opened the new program to everyone, it could pull 120 million Americans out of private insurance more than half of the private market" and boost the government rolls by an even larger number. Two-thirds of Americans would depend on government for their health care, compared with just over one-quarter today. That would strike a historic blow against even the possibility of limited government."

The public's worries are growing about Obama's overreach. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that "Most respondents are 'very concerned' that health-care reform would lead to higher costs, lower quality, fewer choices, a bigger deficit, diminished insurance coverage and more government bureaucracy." When those polled find out that government-funded health care could put many private insurers out of business because of an inability to compete with Uncle Sam, support for government control sinks to 37 percent.

Medicare and Medicaid illustrate the potential for Obamacare to bankrupt individual states en route to bankrupting the nation and transforming the country into a welfare continent like Europe. Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud, mismanagement and runaway costs threaten the financial viability of many states, including California and New York. Just as with Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid use ostensible cost controls mandated by Big Government. But the result has been that patients, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and the government itself game the crazy incentives of the system to overuse and overprescribe medicine while stifling more cost efficiency and innovation in medical care.

Obama is selling his health care plan as a way to reform all that. But what he's not telling you is that the price you'll pay (when you're not paying it in higher taxes) includes rationing: of medical procedures, patient-doctor choices, and access to cutting edge new drug" which will all be restricted by government bureaucrats.

Contrary to Obama (and his echo chamber in the mainstream news media), there are alternative health care plans that can be emulated -- using the private economy. In the June 19 Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel wrote about tens of thousands of Safeway employees enjoying quality, cost-effective health care in a program championed by CEO Steve Burd who "blew up the company's existing health care structure and replaced it with one that embodied market principles -- choice, responsibility, competition and price."

The FOX Forum and others, including the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, are providing outlets for citizens to debate what kind of health care they prefer.

The antidote of public scrutiny is needed. Otherwise, Obama's health care poison pill could kill the private system that makes American medicine the world's best.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net. He is a consultant to corporate and political leaders including Steve Forbes.