“Hot Air”, Indeed.
Here’s an exchange from ABC News’ special on Obama’s health care proposal:
“Q: If your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that could be done, and you sought out opinions from some medical leaders in major centers and they said there’s another option you should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family?
OBAMA (after talking about his grandmother): I think families all across America are going through decisions like that all the time, and you’re absolutely right that if it’s my family member, my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.
Ed Morrissey calls this Obama’s Michael Dukakis moment”, and writes:
“Oopsie! So ObamaCare for thee, but not for me? Hope and change, baby! (…)
If ObamaCare isn’t good enough for Sasha, Malia, or Michelle, then it’s not good enough for America. Instead of fighting that impulse, Obama should be working to boost the private sector to encourage more care providers, less red tape and expense, and better care for everyone.”
It’s worth taking this apart a bit. It is true now, and would be true under any remotely plausible insurance scheme, that sometimes insurers will not pay for treatments, on the grounds that they are too experimental and unproven, or that they just plain don’t work. That is true under our current system, and it would remain true under Obama’s plan.
It is also true, both under our present system and under Obama’s proposal (and, for that matter, any other proposal out there) that people who want medical care that is not covered by insurance can get it, so long as they are willing to pay for it themselves (or find someone else to pay for it.) Thus, if Bill Gates wants to try some very expensive unproven treatment, he can. If I wanted that same treatment under the same conditions, I would not be able to have it.
If this counts as “ObamaCare for Bill Gates but not for me”, then it exists now, and will continue to exist under Obama’s plan, and any other plan under even remotely serious consideration. Curiously, we have the same system for all sorts of things. Cars, for instance: much as I love my Prius, I would really, really love to have a vintage Jag. Unfortunately, I can’t afford one. I imagine that Barack Obama can. Oh no: he’s a hypocrite again: it’s ObamaCar for him but not for the rest of us, who can’t afford vintage Jags! I could go on — ObamaFood, ObamaLivingRoomSets, and so forth, but you get the point.
The main difference between ObamaMicrowaves and ObamaCare is that the government does not so much as try to ensure that everyone will have a toaster oven. So Obama and I get what the government provides in the way of toaster ovens, namely nothing, and then we have the option to buy more. This is what we call “the market”, and it means that some people end up better off, toaster-oven-wise, than others.
With health care, by contrast, we guarantee that certain kinds of people — the elderly, children, veterans, federal workers, etc. — will get health insurance, which in turn provides them with health care — at least, it’s supposed to. As I said above, it will not pay for experimental treatments, or treatments that don’t work. Nonetheless, unlike toaster ovens, the government provides some people with a decent level of health care; as with toaster ovens, they are free to get more.
Obama’s health care plan would extend insurance to more people; ideally, to everyone. The point is to put a floor under everyone — and a decent one. It’s also to give them more choices about the health insurance they or their employers purchase. The point was never to put a ceiling on how much people can spend, or to make absolutely sure that Bill Gates has no advantage over anyone else, as far as health care is concerned.
Nothing — nothing — about this idea is in any way inconsistent with the idea that someone who can pay for health care that his or her insurance company declines to cover should be able to do so. The alternative would be to forbid people to get any care that is not covered by their insurance. Again, that is something that no one has seriously proposed. Surely Ed Morrissey isn’t faulting Obama for not proposing to forbid people from buying health care on his own — is he?