By Aaron M. Rodriguez
Published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Senator Herb Kohl wrote a piece endorsing President Obama’s push for health care reform. Although everyone wants health care reform, not everyone wants the kind of health care reform that Herb Kohl advocates.
Americans understand that government run systems are generally more inefficient and costly than privatized systems. When the element of competition is mixed with the desire for prosperity, more people win. Businesses are compelled to outperform their competitors, customers get a better product for generally a better price, and government reaps the benefit of a successful private sector through increased tax revenues. However, not all Americans are friendly toward capitalism. Career government bureaucrats like Herb Kohl believe that a larger government is necessary to control and eventually own the flow of commodities in the free market.
In his article to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Herb Kohl says this:
We have fallen far behind other nations that provide coverage to all their citizens and still deliver better quality care at lower cost. We desperately need to catch up before health care costs threaten to destroy us. America spends more on health care than any other country, yet in 2004 we ranked 26th in life expectancy and 32nd in infant mortality.
Second, Herb Kohl is right that we need to do something about the skyrocketing costs of health care. However, Kohl lives in fairyland if he thinks expanding health care to everyone will reduce costs. Part of the reason why Wisconsin has such a high budget deficit is because we have expanded Badger Care Plus to include adults with no dependent children. Given the penchant of our culture to abuse free services, adding universal health care will greatly promote unnecessary health care costs. Mr. Obama's quasi-universal health care proposal is anticipated to cost an additional 1.5 trillion over the next decade, and only 16 million out of the 50 million that are supposedly uninsured will be covered under the plan. Consider the costs of medicare for example. According to a report by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress,
“Medicare has the least generous benefits package among leading forms of insurance. Medicare covers 56 percent of total health care expenses, while typical employment-based health insurance covers 70 percent.”
Medicare does not have a good track record in cost savings. From 2000-2005, Medicare's share of the GDP grew to 17%. And this is just Medicare; it does not include other socialized programs like Medicaid and Social Security. Expanding Medicare will only drive up spending and taxation with the efficiency so often seen in government programs.
And third, our life expectancy and infant mortality has little to do with a privatized health care system. Obesity is one of the more significant factors in a shortened life expectancy, and Americans tend to be a lot more obese than other nations. In fact, Canada's life expectancy rate is higher than the U.S., but their obesity rate is at 14% whereas the United States is about 30%. And this of course, excludes the fact that most deaths occur without any intervention of the health care system at all. Examples of premature death would include murder, manslaughter, car accidents, drownings, hypothermia, heat stroke, death while sleeping, and even on the toilet (a lot more common that people think). So unless Herb Kohl can present data that the privatization of health care is the culprit for our increased mortality rates, then he should stay silent and let the adults talk about real health care reform like Congressman Paul Ryan.