By Conn Carroll
On Good Morning America today, former-Vermont Governor and former-Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told host George Stephanopoulos:
This is a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG. A very small number of people are going to get any insurance at all, until 2014, if the bill works. … This is an insurance company’s dream, this bill. This is the Washington scramble, and I think it’s ill-advised. … We’ve gotten to this stage … in Washington where passing any bill is a victory, and that’s the problem. Decisions are being about the long-term future of this country for short-term political reasons, and that’s never a good sign.
Dean is dead on. This is what we have been saying for months. Back in June we wrote under the header Stop the Health Care Bailout Before it Starts:
The last time Congress debated fundamental health care reform, America’s health insurance industry fought against more government control of your health care, most famously with the “Harry and Louise”ad depicting a typical middle class family in despair. This time around, however, the health insurance industry is supporting more government control of your health care. Why? Because key reformers are offering to use government coercion to force fifty million Americans to become new health insurance customers. What industry wouldn’t want the government to create 50 million new customers overnight?
In his primary challenge with then-Senator Hillary Clinton, then-Senator Barack Obama said he was against government mandates that would force individuals to buy health insurance. Now that he is in power, President Obama is much more open to the idea. Before he departed for the Middle East and Europe last week, President Obama sent a letter to Congress explaining he would support mandates if they enabled him to also establish a government-run health insurance plan. We’ve covered the dangers of a public health insurance plan before, so we’ll turn to a study written by one of Obama’s own nominees, HHS Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation Dr. Sherry Glied, to detail why individual mandates would be terrible public policy:
“The relative invisibility of the mandate ’tax’ may make it easier for special interests to achieve their goals. The mandate, then, would become a means through which special interests use government to force transfers of funds from consumers to the health care sector.”