Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Washington Post op-ed: The Huge Health-Care Subsidy Everyone Is Ignoring, by Edward Kleinbard (USC):
The political right has paralyzed government over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds that the ACA represents an unacceptable government intrusion into what today is the province of private markets. But the premise is fundamentally untrue.
Government’s hand has long shaped and subsidized health-care markets, for example, in Medicare and Medicaid (which dominate how medical care is organized and delivered in America, even for care that falls outside their reach), or the requirement that hospitals treat urgent care needs of indigents.
But perhaps the most consequential subsidy is rarely mentioned or even noticed: Government for decades has directly subsidized individuals’ costs of employer-based health care, to the tune of roughly $250 billion every year – sums far greater than the annual costs of the subsidized insurance coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
That fact makes the ongoing debate positively perverse. What we are witnessing today are individuals who already receive government health-care handouts attempting to prevent others from obtaining similar (but smaller in aggregate amount) health-care subsidies, as well. And as a group, today’s recipients of government health-care subsidies are better off to begin with than are those they wish to exclude. ...
The plain fact is that those who have paralyzed government over the Affordable Care Act today feed at the trough of government health-care subsidies, while seeking to exclude others from sharing the bounty. This is simple selfishness in action. If you claim to stand on principle in your demands to destroy the Affordable Care Act, first give back the $250 billion you’ve been taking every year in government help.