Private v.s. Gov’t Health Care Tipping Point

Efforts in Congress to fast-track passage of an economic stimulus package and expansion of the children’s health care program, if successful, would give liberals a big down payment on nationalizing health care. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) has stated as much.

America already was on a fast track toward the tipping point in health care — that point where the federal government will control more spending on personal health than the private sector does. Today, as this chart shows, government  controls 46 percent of such spending; its share is expected to reach 49 percent by 2017.  Adding more middle-class kids to the children’s health care program (known as SCHIP), along with expanding Medicaid and sundry health provisions in President Obama’s economic stimulus package, only will move the country faster to socialized medicine.

The SCHIP reauthorization bill would give states the ability to expand coverage to children — and in some instances adults and immigrants — at any income level. The bill also would accelerate, rather than minimize, losses in private health coverage.  If states follow the leads of New York and New Jersey and expand SCHIP to include families earning over $80,000 a year, a staggering three-fourths of American children would be eligible for government-run health care. This alone would be a tremendous victory for those who want the U.S. government, not the consumer,  to be in charge of health care choices.

There’s more, though: The economic stimulus package includes components that lay the foundation for more government sway over health care. First, the plan expands eligibility for Medicaid to new populations — making government health care the default option for the unemployed and creating greater dependence on this poorly performing welfare program.

Second, the plan calls for studies on “comparative effectiveness” of prescription drugs and devices. As Scott Gottlieb noted in the Wall Street Journal: “Report language accompanying the House stimulus bill says that ‘more expensive’ medical products ‘will no longer be prescribed.’ “  In other words, bureaucrats will restrict your choices in personal health decisions.

This is the ultimate goal of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle, who champions a national health board based on the British National Institute for Comparative Effectiveness (NICE). The House stimulus plan  also would spend taxpayer money to set up health information technology, a key tool for implementing “delivery reforms” — meaning more bureaucrats butting into your health care.

And finally, as these bills move to President Obama’s desk for his signature, he should consider how they contradict his stated vision and promises for overall health care reform. Our new president might start with two of his campaign pledges: to seek bipartisan solutions and to protect the private health coverage Americans enjoy today.