Michael Cannon has a bone to pick with Politifact:
ObamaCare is not a government takeover, I learned from PolitiFact, because it “uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage.”
But wait. In my research, I found that distinction between public and private to be illusory: what difference is there between a public system where the government taxes and spends your money, and a “private” system where the government forces you to spend your money in the same way?
“It is irrelevant,” I wrote, “whether we describe medical resources (e.g., hospitals, employees) as ‘public’ or ‘private.’ What matters – what determines real as opposed to nominal ownership – is who controls the resources.” I detailed how making private health insurance compulsory – as ObamaCare does – “would give government as much control over the nation’s health care sector as a compulsory government program.”
I even quoted President Obama’s health adviser Jeanne Lambrew, who acknowledges, “the government role in socialized medicine systems ranges from complete government ownership and salaried facilities and providers to public financing of private insurance and providers” (emphasis added) – which is exactly how ObamaCare operates. (bold emphasis mine)
There is one difference, albeit not one that either Michael or defenders of “ObamaCare” (a curious designation, since the plan was basically a national version of what Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts) will like to acknowledge: the profit motive. Whatever other problems there are that either form shares due to political influence, with the insurance-company-as-regulated-utility model there’s also the plugging in of largely for profit businesses to a steady stream, via the combination of subsidies & the “individual mandate”, of tax dollars. Anyone who has taken a look at, say, “defense” contracting or the gains the financial sector giants have been able to pull off entirely from the public teet knows where this leads.
Since the insurance companies weren’t very popular in the first place due to their business practices, and most people aren’t familiar with the concept of a genuine public-option — that is, collective provision via mutual aid, outside of government — the “public government option” got a ton of support in public opinion research. It made sense to an extent: if you’re going to have to pay the money to the government anyway, might as well just pay for the care. Problem was, the domino effect I previously laid out with the government-administered insurance option would’ve eventually chopped the insurance business out of the picture entirely — not because of Teh Evil Socialism, but because other large-scale businesses would gladly stab them in the back to lower their own costs. Realizing this, the idea was dropped. But is there any less government involvement? Not really.
The point Mike’s column attempts to make is, basically, that it’s correct to call the health reform law “socialized medicine”. It’s actually something worse.