The other day I wrote a bit about the issue of how the much more individuals will pay for health insurance if the bill being considered in the Senate becomes law. While analysts quibble about exact numbers, it’s pretty clear that most Americans will be paying more.
A similar statement can be made about the overall costs of this bill. The media has made a bill deal of exactly how much the Senate bill is going to cost over ten years? Can Majority Leader Reid come up with something that fits under $900 billion? (Yes, he can by starting the revenue raisers, like higher taxes, in year one but letting benefits kick in years later).
But we learned an important lesson this week — regardless of what the estimates say now, it’s a safe bet that in reality this is going to cost all of us a great deal more. Charlotte Hays writes about this on IWV’s blog — the bottom line being that we’ve just witnessed the Senate passing an amendment to prevent the government from limiting access to mammograms. That may in itself be a fine thing, but the amendment–which is expected to add about another $1 billion over 10 years to the legislation’s total cost–is just the first of many instances in which politicians will vote to expand access to medical treatments. Politically organized groups (like the extremely well-organized breast cancer prevention lobby) can create big political pressure and win concessions from lawmakers. Suffers of individual diseases will benefit, but taken as a whole taxpayers could lose big time.
And is this really the best way for us to determine how much our society should spend on any given condition? Should it really be a matter left up to lobbyists and pr specialists with the money going to whomever can come up with the most heart-wrenching ad campaign?
We should all be very uncomfortable that increasingly the government will dictate how much access we have to health care treatments and therefore how much money will be pouring in to treat any specific conditions. We all know the corrupting power of politics-wouldn’t we rather rely on the market-based process of millions of individuals making decisions that make sense for themselves and their families rather than depending on Washington?