Healthcare "Reform" is Greek Tragedy

12/03/2009 10:05 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


There is great pressure to pass a healthcare Bill, even one as flawed as HR 3962. The new Administration has expended great political capital to do so. The public was promised healthcare reform and expects it. Everyone 'knows' how sick healthcare is in the USA and it is true: healthcare is indeed highly dysfunctional. However, the existence of a crisis is not a good reason to do precisely the wrong thing.

A bad Act such as HR 3962 is worse than no Act at all for two reasons: a bad Act makes things worse, not better, and passing a bad Act makes it impossible to pass a good Act.

HR3962 is bad because it takes the things that are already wrong with healthcare and makes them worse! The President highlighted healthcare's excessive costs. This healthcare 'reform' Act greatly increases those costs. The President emphasized the contribution of the cost of healthcare to our current recession. How will adding about $1 trillion to the national deficit help our economy? In the midst of a recession, HR3962 reduces our ability to compete: it penalizes small businesses and adds new taxes.

What is the largest single cost item in all of healthcare: Overcharging? Defensive Medicine? Insurance companies? Answer: none of the above. By far the largest expense in healthcare is the "waste of the middle." What will HR3962 do to this cost factor? Answer: greatly expand it.

Tens of millions lack health insurance. HR3962 does little to help them. It does something much more ominous. By decreasing MediCare payments, it reduces access to CARE, which is what people really want, not insurance.

Why does HR3962 contain exclusions, exemptions and loopholes? Problems with healthcare costs, access and quality are just as true in Nevada and Louisiana as they are in California or Illinois. Putting variations in a healthcare Act adds inequities & complexities to a system that is already over-burdened with them.

No Bill is completely "bad" and HR3962 does contain some good elements such as elimination of pre-existing conditions and support for cost-effectiveness research. However, we must support or oppose any Bill on its net value: will its benefits outweigh its negatives? The answer is clearly no!

Some people might still say that, "something is better than nothing." A bad Act such as HR3962 not only makes things worse, it backfires in a second way. By passing a bad Act, Congress prevents a good Act from even being discussed much less passed. We know what we need to do to fix healthcare. HR3962 makes it impossible to do the right thing.

To the people in Congress, healthcare reform is a political contest. The newspapers report changes in who is for and who is against the Bill like point scoring during a boxing match. To Congress and to the media, this is a game of winners and losers. For us the Public, we are all in it together and HR3962 makes us all losers.

Healthcare 'Reform" is a Greek tragedy: inexorable.
You can see we are heading for disaster.
You are watching it unfold.
There is nothing you can do to stop it.
That is what is happening with HR3962.