I met former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor shortly after she retired in 2006, years before Obamacare.
We were both speakers at a conference in Washington, D.C. The justice, a person of extraordinary intellect, is generally exceptionally composed. That day she was upset. In her talk on health care she repeatedly asked, “Why can’t a nation as great and prosperous as ours provide health care for all?”
Universal health care wasn’t a Republican issue, so this seemed an unusual question coming from a prominent Republican. During the break, I asked her if someone she knew was uninsured. She said her son. I asked why. She said he couldn’t afford insurance because his child (her grandchild) had a pre-existing condition.
“This means you too are, in effect, uninsured.”
“Precisely. If they need medical care, I will, of course, help pay the bills, which could be enormous.”….
Yes, our current health care system — all of it — is a mess based on its cost and outcomes. But replacing Obamacare with Trumpcare violates the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” If enacted, it will leave far more of us uninsured or underinsured, which means it will leave all of us uninsured or underinsured.
This, in turn, means we all need to save more for that unexpected call for help from a relative or friend.
Well, Trumpcare is off the board, for now. But Obamacare is by no means here to stay. It will erode by piecemeal legislation, regulatory discretion, and market-driven changes in health-care and insurance.
In the meantime, however, the Jesuitical Professor Kotlikoff can be expected to push for universal health care (whatever that means) by spewing nonsense like that quoted above.
I have questions for Herr Doctor Professor Kotlikoff:
Where is it written in the Constitution that the central government has the power to regulate and provide health care? (Don’t tell me that it’s in the General Welfare Clause; that clause confers no such power on the central government.)
Why is the health of a person who lives at the other end of the country any of my business? I have my own health to care for, and (possibly) the health of persons dear to me. And I (and they) have other needs. If the health of a stranger is my problem, doesn’t that make my other needs his problem? Where’s the limit?
And why limit yourself to the United States? Why not create a global version of Britain’s National Health Service, which has worked out so well for the British?
What’s wrong with expecting people to save more for their own health-care needs, if not for the health-care needs of friends and relatives? Isn’t that called personal responsibility? And hasn’t it been eroded by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, etc., etc., etc.?
And why are you, as an economist, so ignorant of the impoverishing consequences of government spending and regulation? Don’t you know that if government had been minimized — held to its proper role as the defender of Americans from foreign and domestic predators — Americans at all income levels could amply afford market-provided, high-quality health care?