“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peggy Noonan Goes Socialist

I managed to make it through Peggy Noonan's weekend editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Maybe it was due to the picture of a thoughtful Paul Ryan, chin on hand, that drove me forward.

The editorial was nothing particularly new or special. It was, after all, Peggy Noonan, herself now long in the tooth, with very little, if anything worthwhile to express anymore.

Instead, Noonan plumped for socialism with this passage about older Americans and health care,

"Rep. Paul Ryan was at the summit, soldiering on. His main problem on Medicare is that people fear the complexities and demands of a new delivery system.

People who draw up legislation, people capable of mastering the facts of the huge and complicated federal budget, often think other people are just like them....But normal people don't wear green eyeshades...But normal people are more likely to sit slouched at the kitchen table with their head in their hands. "Oh no, another big decision, another headache, 50 calls to an insurance company, another go-round with the passive-aggressive phone answerer who, even though she's never met me, calls me Freddy as she puts me on hold.

Here's the great thing about Medicare: You turn 65 and it's there. They give you a card and the nurse takes it."

In the next paragraph, Noonan contradicts herself on that salient last point, noting that, even now, due to low reimbursement rates, some doctors refuse to take "the card."

It's actually far worse than that. I have an acquaintance who had to help an aged relative with Medicare-covered treatment for an ailment. The amount of red tape, paperwork and time spent arguing with various Medicare officials was not to be believed. The relative was sent bills for erroneous out-of-pocket expenses running to tens of thousands of dollars. Days were spent, often in increments of 3-4 hours, either speaking or on hold with government bureaucrats at various offices throughout the region and Washington.

But Noonan's larger mistake is to portray the insulation of Americans from making their own decisions on how to spend their own money on health insurance. If people can buy homes, homeowners and car insurance, surely they are capable of and ought to take an interest in their health insurance, as well.

That's why allowing market forces to compete by providing differing price points, service and quality levels of health insurance is a good thing. Instead of one take-it-or-leave-it government-run, unresponsive health insurance system, multiple private insurers will compete for customers in an open market where bad performance will cost them customers.

It's a sad day when one of Ronald Reagan's speechwriters plumps for government health care. Her former boss was the modern paragon of individual freedom and self-determination.

Now Noonan is arguing for seniors to just be given a "card" and have others make their decisions about their money for them.

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