THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
The National Review just published an op-ed, The Dangers of Empathy, and though the piece blames empathy for totalitarian nationalism, the overarching message is sensible: empathy can make us unreasonable, and even lead a country to make horrible decisions. Perfect lead-in for a discussion about health care.
Cue the stories about the ACA saving children. Bring the chemotherapy patients on-stage and let’s have Sarah McLachlan singing over an AARP ad.
It’s too easy to turn the health care debacle into a do-or-die story — because depending on the policies, either more people will die from treatable illnesses, or less will die. But in their haste to save untold millions from cadaver-status, Democrats took a bargain with the devil and established a horrendous precedent…
Democrats decided to mandate that all people have health insurance, or else face a hefty fine. Nothing wrong with requiring people to enter into contracts with businesses that, in most cases, are publicly traded behemoths. Nothing wrong with mandating we make monthly payments to a corporation.
Democrats defended the mandate by saying it’s the same as a tax for Medicare; it’s the same requirement as car insurance; it’s the only way to cover pre-existing conditions. Except, no, the mandate doesn't go to public coffers, it’s not dependent on a person’s choice to operate a vehicle, and it isn’t the only way to ensure people with cancer aren’t shrivelling in the streets.
The ACA, and its individual mandate, was only the quickest way, and if we weren't emotionally myopic, we would have held-out for a sane solution. No liberal would support mandatory payments to Wall Street, unless they were told millions of innocent children would die without it. Even conservative voters too, now, kind-of-sort-of like the ACA, despite the absurd mandate.
Not that the GOP really disliked the mandate to begin with: the far-right Heritage Foundation proposed it in 1989, the GOP supported it in the 1990s, and their own 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, pioneered the mandate into policy.
Perhaps such a mandate was in the cards all along, then. Democrats, too, apparently loved the idea, having single-handedly passed what Republicans had originally wanted.
Now, while the whole country is listing ways people will pointlessly die, or appearing on TV to shed AHCA-opposing tears, no one is mentioning the mandate. It’s somehow now normal to require monthly payments to corporations. Such a mandate is now, somehow, something we prefer.
And that’s the real horror of the AHCA — even the Trump administration and most Republicans, the only potent opposition to the ACA, would like to ensure we’re all still paying for insurance. It’s the new normal; unless we want people to die, we better be forced to make monthly payments to our favorite insurance corporation. We’re saving lives; we don’t care what this precedent might lead to, what we could be required to pay to corporations in the future.
I’ll leave you with this suggestion:
Libertarians have been outraged by the mandate, so too have socialists. Maybe there’s a thought-experiment for everyone else.
What if Boston colonialists had mandated that every American purchase fire insurance, instead of establishing the first public fire department?
Medicaid is the largest payer of autism and other developmental disorders