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Health Care Reform

HEALTH CARE: REFORMED OR DEFORMED?

By Conrad F. Meier
Senior Fellow in Health Policy
The Heartland Institute

PREFACE

The Health Security Act of 1993, often referred to as "ClintonCare," National Health Care or Universal Health Care, was a major media as well as political event. Most people know Congress did not pass the enabling legislation and have assumed the plan was given a proper burial. Nothing could be more incorrect.

Lacking substantive media coverage in the years since, many citizens remain unaware that significant health care reform law, most of it taken directly from the failed Health Security Act, has been approved by Congress and state governments slowly but surely, one incremental step at a time. The result of this incremental approach has been to create a stew of over-lapping laws and regulations that rival the complexity of the IRS code.

What has evolved is the rapid and continued growth of government influence and regulation of all aspects of the American health care system. But to what end?

Currently, this administration has seen the cost of health care insurance escalate more rapidly than ever; the uninsured rate is higher than ever; insured citizens are experiencing greater out-of-pocket costs; the time honored doctor relationship has been compromised by federal laws; doctors are opting-out of Medicare arrangements because of dysfunctional federal laws; and HMOs are dropping out of the federal managed care-plus system. It should be abundantly obvious from these consequences that the more the federal government attempts to do something for us, the worse things get.

Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn, yet again, from history is that the past socialistic meddling with the medical marketplace always fails, whenever and wherever it is tried and that there is no defensible reason to keep trying more of the same.

If, as at one time was common practice, "bleeding" a patient of an ounce of blood just made him weaker, it was folly to believe that bleeding him of a pint would make him better. But ever since the introduction of Medicare this is exactly what the advocates of government intervention in health care have been doing as they repeatedly prescribe the same harmful treatment, painfully bleeding the private health insurance market of all its vitality.

Americans, distracted by assorted crimes and misdemeanors by people in high places and content to be fattened by a robust economy, remain mostly uninformed and largely silent while their health care freedoms vanish into a bureaucratic abyss. We are approving what we rejected in 1994.

And so to my question: given the massive codification of our health care system, have things gotten better or worse? Have the two most important issues of health insurance cost and health insurance access been resolved? Has health care been reformed or deformed?

And, it seems fair to ask, do the statists from both parties know what they are doing? Yes, even expecting the current trend to turn so nasty as to move the populace to scream for a single-payer health care system? As far as social policy goes, the evidence suggests liberal thinkers don't care much if government mandates and regulations increase premium costs and therefore the uninsured rate. Since the more uninsured citizens there are the greater the public support for a big government fix.

The time has come for citizens to wake-up, read-up and speak-up in defense of individual freedom in a free-market health care system. The mission of this publication is to help you read-up. The waking-up and speaking-up are up to you. As history reminds us, we are what we are today because of what we did yesterday.

In other words, if you do not start paying attention to what government is doing for you, you will soon pay attention to what government has done to you.

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ADVISORY: Health Care: Reformed or Deformed? and the companion site Health Care Reform Update are protected by copyright law, 1998, 2000 and 2001,2002,2003. When using any portion of the content in any media please credit Conrad F. Meier, Senior Fellow in Health Policy, The Heartland Institute and any other source or author referenced in these website publications. Thank You.