Sunday, March 20, 2011

U.S. Senator steals my argument against health care law

There have been a lot of false claims and bad arguments against the health insurance law in the year since it passed. There's been claims of death panels, rationing, jail time for people who don't have insurance, etc.. But don't jump yet to the conclusion that the health care law must therefore be a positive. There are legitimate problems with the law. In this The New York Times article on the many waivers being granted from the law an opponent of the law makes a devastating, if brief, argument against the law:

Administration officials, labor unions and consumer advocates plan to celebrate the first anniversary with a week of events highlighting benefits of the law to consumers. But Senator Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, asked, “If the law is so good, why are so many waivers needed?" (emphasis added). That is a great objection; one that I had thought of as soon as the waivers drew media attention. Since Senator Enzi can get quoted in the Times, and I can't, I bear him no ill will for not acknowledging my contribution.

The rest of the article backs up Senator Enzi's (and my) argument pretty well. The administration doesn't seem to be standing by the law they said it was so great for this country. 94%(!) of the waivers requested have been granted. In Maine, the administration dropped a mandate that insurers must spend 80% or more of premiums on medical care, rather than CEO salaries or administrative costs. As the article states:

The Obama administration lowered the requirement to 65 percent for Maine, after finding “a reasonable likelihood” that the tougher standard would drive one big carrier out of the market for individuals, leaving thousands without insurance.

I guess the obvious question is: if that was going to happen, why not pass a more reasonable law in the first place?

On a slightly frivolous note, the article quotes Republican Senator Charles Grassley, referring to the 94% granted waiver number: "That strikes me as a very high percentage." Yes, Senator, you are right, it is a very high number. For example, (Warning, gratuitious sports analogy coming up)a baseball pitcher who retired 94% of the batters he faced would be the greatest pitcher who ever lived by far. In fact, there's a good chance he would never lose a game in his entire career.