By: Jason Lewis
The Post Bulletin
Not long ago I was in an unfortunate accident while traveling in the Virginia countryside. It necessitated a costly ambulance ride and precautionary treatment in a hospital emergency room. I’m grateful for the excellent care from dedicated first responders, nurses and doctors.
But federal officeholders — contrary to conventional wisdom — do not have free health care. By law, they must buy insurance coverage on an Affordable Care Act marketplace exchange and that is as it should be.
It also means these politicians should be aware of the same costs that continue to threaten real health care access for so many families. Yet despite the best intentions of those of us who have pushed for genuine health care reform, the defenders of the status quo have so far prevailed.
But at what cost?
In a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Health, 116,000 state residents lost their health plans in just the last two years — leaving approximately 349,000 Minnesotans without coverage. The uninsured rate has climbed to 6.3 percent and represents the largest increase since 2001.
Moreover, since 2013 almost 7000 small businesses have been priced out of the health insurance market as well. Sadly, this continues the trend of Minnesotans enduring massive back-to-back premium increases while simultaneously seeing their coverage shrink with tighter provider networks, stricter drug formularies and much higher co-pays and deductibles.
No wonder Gov. Mark Dayton, in a rare moment of candor, said, “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.”
It’s hard to imagine it could get much worse. Yet it can.
Liberal Democrats, such as my opponents in the 2nd District, are now pushing for a non sequitur known as “medicare for all.” Their plan would actually end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a “universal trust fund.”
In other words, seniors currently on Medicare would lose their current plan and be thrown into a socialized medicine free-for-all. This latest single-payer proposal is simply another dangerous plan for rationing health care.
As bad as the denial of heath care is, the budgetary impacts of “Medicare for All” are just as gloomy. Even the left-of-center Urban Institute says the scheme would cost $32 trillion in just the first decade — about $17 trillion short of what the plan’s new massive payroll and income taxes would bring in. The federal government would have little choice but to start denying care by reimbursing providers below market rates.
It’s already happening.
That’s why only 55 percent of primary-care physicians in California accept new Medicaid patients, resulting in far longer wait times for those on the insolvent government program now growing twice as fast as the economy.
Real insurance — or what my parents used to call “major medical” — covered most catastrophic costs under an affordable policy. But too many politicians promising “free” health care have turned insurance pools upside down and the traditional coverage model on its head. As a result, massive deductibles for catastrophic events such as accidents, heart attacks, cancer and other life-threatening situations have put millions of Americans one step away from bankruptcy.
Voters will face a binary choice in 2018. We can either keep working on reform that provides affordable health insurance plans that patients actually want or we can fall down the slippery slope of socialized medicine.