Monday, April 2, 2012

Fear, HilllaryCare and ObamaCare

When Bill Clinton was selling HillaryCare in the House of Representatives back in the fall of 1993 he held up a credit card mockup in his right hand and said that HillaryCare was health care that could never be taken away.

That sounded like a winner, but the American people, persuaded by the TV personalities Harry and Louise, thought otherwise.  They reckoned that HillaryCare would raise the cost of their health insurance.  In other words, a take-away, as the labor union guys put it.

So you can understand that the Obamis went out of their way to tell the American people that ObamaCare would allow them to keep their current insurance and doctor and that it would reduce health costs.  And they bought off the insurance companies that had bankrolled the Harry and Louise ads.

And they passed ObamaCare without anyone knowing what was in it, and they gamed the costs so that the total cost as reported by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in 2009-10 would be under a trillion dollars over ten years.

But now that we are two years on from 2009-2010 the out-year costs of ObamaCare are appearing in the official CBO scoring.  Now the gross cost is up to $1.76 trillion over ten years.  And the American people have just experienced a couple of years of rapid increase in their health insurance premiums.

So we are back to the end game of HillaryCare, when Americans became firmly convinced that they would be paying for freeloaders, the fabled "uninsured."

There is another thing.  My friend Stephen reminded me of it.  A lot of Americans are afraid of what ObamaCare will mean for them.  In other words, a lot of American women are looking out at the future, and wondering if they will be able to afford the drugs and the care they need for their chronic health problems.

How right he is.  Fear is never far from the surface where health care is concerned.  The dreadful National Health Service in Britain is still celebrated because it took the fear out of health care.  You didn't have to worry about whether you could afford your doctor bills any more.  What a relief!

What slides under the radar is that government health care is not the best and, especially in Britain, it gets worse and worse as the nursing gets worse, and the rationing starts to bite, and old people get neglected.  Looking at it that way there is plenty to fear.

It's just like government education.  Government schools are so-so in the suburbs.  But then the middle class would get a so-so education whatever the government did.  But government education is lousy in the inner city, just where it is needed most.  Health care is OK for people with private insurance.  But Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, is a train wreck.

I imagine that, right now, the Romney campaign is thinking about how to play the "fear" angle on ObamaCare without seeming to be too blatant about it.  Because fear sells, especially with older women, and politics is a dance of our hope against their fear.

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