Advancing a Free Society

The future of American health care

Friday, June 29, 2012

Americans must realize that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was justified by a truly cynical mischaracterization of America’s medical system, obfuscating its renowned excellence despite the facts about superior access, more choice, and unsurpassed disease outcomes thoroughly documented in the world’s medical literature. It is a law that was further justified by massive exaggerations of the magnitude of the uninsured population and the cost of care for those without insurance, and by repeating the false claim equating no insurance with no access to care. A series of mistruths, cast to frighten Americans and undermine the greatest medical system in the world, all put forth as the premise for justifying a social program that begins the path toward the single payer system long dreamed about by liberals and favored by our president.

And somehow, despite all of these facts, most of the mainstream media has remained silent about the sad reality that the law fails by all estimates, including the government’s own, to address the costs of America’s health care, the single most urgent problem burdening the US health care system and the main reason necessitating change in the first place.

As private insurance rates increase as expected and more people are shifted to public programs, in a second term, with nothing to lose, a reelected president and those who support his agenda will likely redouble efforts to heighten regulation and government oversight – further dumbing down American health care and even renewing a more overt public insurance expansion, single payer, the stated favored plan of the president and many of his supporters in Congress.

Fortunately, in this great democracy, Americans will be presented with a clear choice in the upcoming election. The choice at hand is between Governor Romney’s vision of empowering individuals by improving choices, restoring rational analysis to the tax treatment of the health care dollar, and eliminating government barriers to increase private sector competition. This vision – a truly American solution - would maintain excellence and improve access while driving down costs. The alternative is embodied by President Obama’s reforms that expand government authority, dictate insurance requirements, limit consumer choice, and necessarily restrict access to care, all the while causing job losses and threatening the very innovation responsible for advances in medical technology and life-saving cures that embody the exceptionalism of American medicine.

While many issues are critical in all presidential elections, and there are many in this one, there is no issue more illustrative of President Obama’s agenda than health care reform. The stakes are extraordinarily high. Let’s hope the voters see through the rhetoric to come and seize the opportunity.

Scott Atlas, MD, is the David and Joan Traitel senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of the new book In Excellent Health: Setting the Record Straight on America's Health Care.”