ObamaCare: The Wrong Medicine for America

Minnesota State Representative Phyllis Kahn and local attorney Mark R. Miller, the Chair of the Minnesota Chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition, were both asked the following question: “Is it Jewish to support national health care reform? Why or Why Not?”

Here is Mark Miller’s response:

Yes, it is Jewish to support national health care reform – as long as it’s the right kind of reform consistent with Jewish values. As this article demonstrates, the Obama Administration’s proposal does not pass this test for several important reasons.

First, we are taught as Jews to revere and care for our elderly parents, so it violates our values to abandon and break faith with our parents and grandparents by slashing Medicare by $500 billion and shifting those funds to younger age groups. Nor is it Jewish to compromise the quality of health care for the elderly, or to ration health care for the vulnerable, all of which will occur under the Obama Plan.

Second, we are taught to preserve an inheritance for our children, so it violates our values to burden our children and grandchildren with massive, unprecedented debt, as the Obama proposal would do, which can never be repaid in their lifetimes, and which risks the financial independence and standard of living of every American.

Third, Jews are taught to celebrate and sanctify life, so it violates our values to provide federal subsidies, as the Obama proposal would do, which can be used to buy policies to cover abortion services, thereby resulting in federal funds being used to facilitate the destruction of innocent life.

And, finally, it is certainly not Jewish to increase the burden on individuals and families by forcing them to pay higher premiums for insurance coverage, as the Obama proposal certainly would do.

The Bad Consequences of ObamaCare:

The proposal mandates that every American purchase a policy approved by a new federal government health insurance czar, and Imposes new taxes on employers if they do not provide an employee health plan that conforms to the insurance czar’s specifications.

The immediate consequences of the Obama proposal include the following:

  • Higher insurance premiums. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has confirmed that the proposal would result in non-group premium increases of $300 per year for individuals and $2,500 per year for families;
  • The imposition of more than $153 billion in “surtax” levies on small businesses under the House bill, HR 3962;
  • Massive new spending (HR 3962 costs more than $1 trillion) and debt for the United States, with more people losing their jobs and/or their current plans;
  • Indiscriminate cutting of Medicare reimbursements to providers by $500 billion, thereby forcing millions of seniors out of Medicare advantage plans; and
  • Recognition of abortion for the first time (under the Senate’s “Nelson compromise”) as a benefit for those receiving federal subsidies, since at least one federal plan must provide abortion coverage (Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak says “these are drastic changes to the current law”).

Obama’s Plan Threatens The Quality of Care, and Will Ration Care:

Most troubling of all is the threat posed to the quality of health care for older Americans. As Bill Kristol wrote in the December 19 Weekly Standard blog, the CBO concludes that the plan’s claim of “fiscal responsibility” requires cutting in half the growth rate of per capita Medicare spending. According to the CBO’s letter (p. 19):

“It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of healthcare or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.” (emphasis added)

The Administration’s proposal would ration health care. In a December 16 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Sen. Tom Coburn, a physician, explains that the Reid bill (in §3403 and §2021) explicitly empowers Medicare to deny treatment based on costs. An independent Medicare Advisory Board created by the bill will greatly expand the rationing practices that already occur. For example, Medicare has limited cancer patients’ access to Epogen, a costly but vital drug that stimulates red blood cell production.

Moreover, §6301 of the bill creates new comparative effectiveness research (CER) panels, which have been used as rationing commissions in other countries, such as Britain, according to the National Cancer Intelligence Network. As Sen. Coburn observes, “CER panels here could effectively dictate coverage options and ration care for plans that participate in the state insurance exchanges created by the [Reid] bill.”

Finally, Sen. Coburn notes that the Reid bill depends on the recommendations of the Preventive Services Task Force, which recently advised women under 50 not to undergo annual mammograms. As Sen. Coburn states, “When the government asserts the power to provide care, it also asserts the power to deny care.”

If, as the Administration claims, its proposal will add 30 million Americans to the insurance rolls, then, by the basic law of economics, this dramatic increase in demand will overwhelm the existing supply of medical providers, resulting in higher costs and rationing of care. It is also inevitable that a larger percentage of higher risk individuals on the rolls will increase insurance rates.

GOP Proposals: The Better Way.

Contrary to the partisan rhetoric accusing the Republicans of offering no alternatives, the GOP plan offers the following commonsense reforms that will lower healthcare costs:

  • It creates universal access programs that expand and reform high risk pools and reinsurance programs to guarantee that all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable care, while lowering costs;
  • It would help end costly and frivolous lawsuits and curb defensive medicine by enacting medical liability reforms modeled after successful state laws in California and Texas;
  • It prohibits an insurer from canceling a policy unless a person commits fraud or conceals material facts about a health condition;
  • It gives small businesses the power to pool together and offer health care at lower prices, just as corporations and labor unions now do;
  • It rewards innovation by providing incentive payments to states that reduce premiums and the number of their uninsured;
  • It allows Americans living in one state to purchase insurance across state lines;
  • It promotes prevention and wellness by giving employers greater flexibility to financially reward employees who adopt healthier lifestyles; and
  • It creates new incentives to save for current and future health care needs by allowing qualified participants to use Health Savings Accounts (HSA), and to use HSA funds to pay premiums for high deductible policies.

Accordingly, any rational analysis of the healthcare debate currently raging in our country can lead only to one conclusion — the Obama health care proposal is a bad idea, and it should be rejected in favor of the more responsible, less costly, and more effective Republican proposals, which are consistent with our Jewish traditions and principles.

(For more information on the activities of the Minnesota Chapter of the RJC, contact Mark directly at [email protected] or check out the RJC’s national website.)