Health Law Disproves Obama’s Rejection of “The Voices”

In May of this year at a commencement address, the president did his best to cast dispersions on his critics who say that government is too big and that tyranny lurks around the corner. The “voices” of criticism need to be rejected. Rejected because they have no validity. “Voices” warning of tyranny need to be rejected. Rejected because there is no truth to them of course. The “voices” aren’t even deserving of names–despite the fact that millions of people believe what the “voices” warn against. Because to give the “voices” an identity humanizes them and gives some sense of legitimacy to their concerns and their cause.


The Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) provides a confirmation of what the “voices” warn against: that tyranny may indeed be around the corner. That perhaps the “voices” should not be rejected but should be heeded

Tyranny is the exercise of power by a king, despot, or government that is either cruel, arbitrary, or both.  During the Affordable Care Act legislative debates in 2009, an amendment was added to the bill that requires members of Congress and their staff to purchase health insurance plans from the exchanges.

Various news reports confirmed that over the summer, the president personally involved himself in how the law should be applied to Congress. The decision he made, via the Office of Personnel Management, was that taxpayers would pay a subsidy for senators, congressman, and their staff members.

The president has been stating since the beginning of the healthcare debate and continues to say that his signature law lowered insurance premiums for people who will buy insurance on the healthcare exchanges. So if the president and many who support the healthcare law truly believe that the rates are on their way down (by as much as 3000% the president exclaimed in one speech), then why was it so important for taxpayers to provide a subsidy to elected officials? [Of course the premiums are not going down. The promised savings are turning out to actually be an increased cost.]

Why does Congress deserve special treatment? So much so that the president made the law say what he wanted it to say with regard to subsidies for Congress. If they really wanted to raid the public treasury to pay for their healthcare costs, all they need do is pass a law to that effect. The president meanwhile exercised power he doesn’t have, to alter a law he didn’t like. It wasn’t the only aspect of the law he took it upon himself to enact–he also granted a one year delay for large businesses to comply.

Republicans recently made the argument that this exemption should also be extended to small businesses and to individuals, and be enacted as a law instead of relying on a presidential whim. But the president and his party did not want to negotiate that point.

So in effect we have the president, arbitrarily altering provisions of his own law when politically advantageous to him and offering unequal treatment to different classes of citizens. And we have Congress not living under the laws that it passes. Where are the subsidies (again, written into the law by the president and his administration–not authorized by Congress) for people who share similar income levels as Congress and their staff? Why are elected officials deserving of subsidies when the people who actually pay taxes are not?

All of which leads us to what James Madison wrote in Federalist 57:

I will add…in the situation of the House of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny. If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.

If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate any thing but liberty.

In the health care law, we have a law the congress did not have the constitutional authority to enact, a law the president had no authority to sign, and a law the supreme court had no authority to uphold as a tax.

It is up to the people to vote out those political actors who promote themselves above the constitution and the rule of law. It is up to us to insist that politicians and people in government live by the same laws that they require the rest of us to live by.

Voters must consider whether to elect politicians who will repeal the Affordable Care Act or not. But regardless of that decision, the only acceptable outcome is for Obamacare to be applied to all three branches of government. The president, all members of congress, the justices of the supreme court and their families should all get the same opportunity as the rest of us to log into the non-functioning healthcare.gov website and begin the tedious process of selecting an insurance provider or preparing to be guilty of not complying with the law and paying a fine. Without raiding taxpayer’s wallets for subsidies for themselves.

Government Pays Hospitals to Let Patients Die?

UK-based The Daily Telegraph printed a story illustrating one of the dangers of socialized medicine. Based on a Freedom of Information Act request, the report demonstrates financial incentives were paid to National Health Service (NHS) hospitals to employ a controversial treatment, called Liverpool Care Pathway, for patients believed to be dying. The treatment can involve withholding diagnostic tests and “nonessential” treatments. In some cases “can involve the removal of hydration and nutrition from dying patients.”

In a sample, NHS hospitals were paid at least an equivalent of $20 million (£12.4 million), and potentially in excess of $32 million (£20 million) as an incentive for putting patients on the “treatment” course. As the debate over government’s proper role in healthcare in the US continues, this example from “across the pond” shows us exactly why Americans should be distrustful of a greater role for government in the healthcare sector of the economy.

We’ve heard the argument before. It goes something like, “well healthcare in the UK is so much better and efficient than here because they don’t give you medical services until you really need it.” Or so the argument goes.

The fundamental flaw for the pro-government approach to health care delivery is that politicians and government bureaucrats tend to see “healthcare” as a finite resource that must be distributed as “fairly” and as equitably as possible to the voting constituencies (or an even more cynical view, campaign donating constituencies). In dessert terms, government views healthcare as a cake and its mission is to decide who will get how big of a piece.  We’ve heard ad nauseum from one presidential candidate about fairness. We’d like to point out that our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which describe the roles and powers of government does not discuss “fairness.” They do, however, mention “freedom.”

And freedom is lost in a government-controlled healthcare system. As seen in the bureaucratic machinations of the Affordable Care Act, an unelected, appointed group of bureaucrats serving on the Independent Payment Advisory Board will wield power (not subject to Congressional override) to determine anything from a list of accepted treatments to an overall “per capita funding level” in the event that the growth of medical payments exceeds targeted amounts.

Government fails to efficiently allocate resources because it is subject to political pressures. Would government mandates have lead to the creation of “minute clinics” now popping up in various pharmacies and discount stores across the US? No, of course not. Because rather than finding a way to more efficiently deliver service–and thus find a way to increase the size of the healthcare cake available to all, government is locked into its finite resource mentality of allocating scarce resources. It’s the incentive to reap the rewards of their innovation that has inspired US companies to research and develop new medical technologies–technologies that other countries benefit from (even those with socialized medicine). If the US turns to socialized medicine, who will be left with any incentive to develop new and life-saving medical innovations?

Sarah Palin is noted for coining the phrase “death panels” and was savagely criticized for it. But the reality is she’s far closer to the truth than those who attacked her for using the phrase to describe the future of government-managed care in the US. The UK health system uses a metric called “quality adjusted life years” to determine if a disabled or elderly patient will be eligible for various treatments. One of President Obama’s healthcare advisers, Ezekiel Emanual, is noted for his contributions to the Complete Lives System, which evaluates a patient’s future overall value to society in decisions of allocating healthcare resources.

Which leads us to our conclusion. If government is permitted to decide what treatments are available to certain patients, healthcare in the US becomes an entirely new proposition, not unlike the relationship many people have with their cars. When a car needs a new transmission or another expensive repair, many owners (excepting true car lovers!) either resort to a do-it-yourself option or often weigh the cost of a repair against how many useful years a car “realistically” has left. If the fix is determined to be more expensive than its worth, the car owner evaluates trade-ins or how to finance a new car.

This is the undeniable reality of government-managed care that we see coming via “Obamacare.” Government management of the healthcare system chases political rewards rather than economic ones. If a company finds a low cost and profitable way to deliver care via a minute clinic, patients win by finding a low cost provider, and the company wins by earning profits. But instead of engaging in this market-based behavior, the UK government established financial rewards to ease a patient’s passing and allocate scarce healthcare dollars to other areas. It kind of reminds us of another group, also from the UK:

(Warning: Strong Language at close of clip, but very funny!)