Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Thursday, March 18, 2010 :::

Not that I have much hope it will do any good, but here's what I just sent to my Congressman:

I'm sure you read only a small fraction of constituent e-mail sent to you. To increase my chances, I'll be as brief as I can.

My employer recently informed us that, under the health care bill pending in the House, our health care coverage is considered a "Cadillac Plan" and will likely be taxed. It is a "Cadillac Plan" not because the benefits are great -- but because we have so many older employees and are located in a high cost-of-living area and hence pay a lot for insurance. Have you considered the fact that employees (even young employees!) of companies that employ many older people will be penalized by this health care legislation?

My guess is that you have not. I'm sure it can be fixed, though it probably won't be. I'm using it as an example, though, to illustrate the problems inherent in Congress passing huge new laws and mandates. One size never fits all. No matter how much effort is put into fixing one problem, no Congressman or federal regulator can know and understand all of the problems these huge regulations cause to companies and individuals across the nation. You can't; I can't; no one can. In a free country, people voluntarily find solutions that work for them. Centralized planning has always failed and will always fail.

No matter how well a regulator defines the minimum health coverage that will qualify under the individual mandate, the package will be the wrong choice for many, if not most, Americans. Under this proposed law, Americans will be fined (or, if they don't pay the fine, imprisoned!) because they would prefer health coverage different from that which someone who has never met them and knows nothing of their medical history or financial circumstances says is best for them. That is unworthy of a nation that has long stood as a beacon of liberty.

The funding of abortions is also troubling. Millions of people around the country regard this as, literally, evil, and they will have to contemplate whether paying their taxes is a sin and what other options they have. Most will pay, but, whether you agree with them or not, why offend their consciences?

Finally, several of the financial incentives in the legislation make no sense. A tax on medical device manufacturers, for instance, will have two primary effects: the immediate effect will be an increase in the price of medical devices, a hardship on those who require them; the long-term effect will be decreased investment in medical devices and decreased innovation, leading to increased suffering and loss of life.

I know you voted for the earlier legislation that came before the House and included many of these features. I urge you to reconsider your support. Even if you don't care about your own reelection, the fact that the American public so consistently opposes these reforms should give you pause.

Please start again. Our goal as a nation should not be universal insurance coverage; it should rather be cheaper and more effective medical care. There's plenty of room for good legislation there.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Of course, the biggest issue with the pending health care legislation is that it abolishes health insurance as surely as traditional socialized medicine does. By mandating coverage for preexisting conditions, it transforms insurance (by definition, hedging against something that could happen in the future) into a mere pooling of people who will share medical expenses. The "insurance" companies will make their money as pure middlemen, charging a percentage for transferring money from you to your doctor. The individual mandate guarantees that everyone will participate in this mad system. I expect costs to rise as (1) there will be even less incentive for consumers to avoid medical costs and (2) even more medical costs will be laundered through third parties. I did not point this out in my letter because I think my congressman is probably in favor of it.

::: posted by Eric at 10:49 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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