August 2 2010
A Translation Guide to Health Care Headlines
Over the past week, it seems proponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have put together a PR campaign to push the benefits of the Act. "Seniors will benefit!" they say. "Young people will benefit!" And most recently - "Women will benefit!"
Just last week proponents bragged about their highest public approval ratings of health care reform ever. Yet fifty percent is hardly worth bragging about. Congratulations, half of Americans are finally ok with the 2,801 page bill Congress rammed through in March.
It's a sad day when voters have to be convinced after the fact that what their representatives in Congress did was a good thing. But remember what Pelosi said? "We have to pass the bill, so you can find out what's in it."
Well, we are now finding out what's in it. And, aside from finding out that the reform is really complicated, we are learning from a PR campaign and media blitz about all the groups of Americans who will benefit (little is being said about those who won't).
To provide a little balance, I thought I'd provide a translation of the headlines.
One of my new favorite commercials is a young woman who comes home yelling, "I just got accepted into one of the best schools in the country!" The mother and daughter dance around happily, but the father looks concerned. The scene is replayed through the eyes and ears of the dad, and what he heard was, "I just got accepted into one of the most expensive schools in the country!" This is my experience listening to proponents of health care reform drone on about its benefits.
Sure, the new health care law will have disproportionate benefits for certain groups. Central planning always does. But it will also create disproportionate disadvantages for many people, some of whom simply cannot afford another stumbling block right now.
First off, jobless Americans. When proponents of health care talk about the mandates on employers and the requirements added for each employee, the translation for this is "Hiring will becoming more expensive and less attractive to employers." With unemployment levels hovering around ten percent, we can't afford to divert any more resources away from hiring.
Secondly, taxpayers. When proponents say things like "subsidized coverage," you should be asking "subsidized by whom?" How will all of this new coverage be paid for? Who will pay for it? The translation is "Taxpayers will pay for the coverage of others."
Thirdly, women, seniors, young people, and everyone else. Proponents talk about how in the future no one will be denied coverage and no one will watch his or her premium increase. Yet Americans should be aware that health care costs will continue to climb, and if the government tries to prevent big premium increases (like in Massachusetts), insurers will have to sell products at a loss and they will ultimately leave the market, giving Americans fewer choices.
So enough already trying to convince us that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will benefit everybody and hurt no one. Americans aren't going to be fooled. We know that benefits don't come without burdens, and we can translate for ourselves the effects the new health care law will have on our lives. When proponents say "state-run," we know what that means. That means that as individuals, we're not running our health care anymore.