Chilling: H5069, Single Payer Healthcare (And the Inconsistencies It Poses)

In the course of reviewing certain bills filed during this year’s General Assembly session, I clicked on H5069 — and stared in growing horror at all of the red-lining (i.e., everything to be struck from current law). I turned to the succinct description of this bill written by Justin Katz, Research Director for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, for the Center’s Freedom Index and the horror did not abate:

to create a new agency that would automatically register residents in government healthcare and collect premiums from them, while setting prices for all doctors and other healthcare providers and forbidding private insurers from offering competing products

Your hard-earned dollars grabbed and no choices whatsoever in healthcare offered in exchange. The institution of government, highly inefficient, too easily prone to manipulation by and for the select few, would rigidly control what we all receive for healthcare; would rigidly control who would provide our healthcare; would rigidly control compensation rates for all healthcare professionals — most chillingly, would inexorably come to decide whether a person could receive healthcare at all.

Let’s frame it as starkly as possible. Liberals, imagine Karl Rove administering your healthcare at the orders of Donald Trump. Right wingers … well, no need to imagine; the headlines out of the United Kingdom and their NHS say it all — except that, as bad as it is there, real single payer would be even worse, with no means of escape, because the U.K. still has a private sector healthcare system. Advocates of single payer in the United States would stamp that out completely if they could.

The cost to all Rhode Islanders of single payer healthcare would be exorbitant. (Stay tuned to the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity for more about that on Monday).

The Center has rated H5069 a -3 only because that’s the worst rating a bill can receive on the Freedom Index. (In my view, the Center should create a special rating of -100 for this bill.)

As even Vermont and California, not exactly bastions of free-market governing principles, have notably rejected single payer healthcare because of the sky-high cost, one wonders if this bill was put forward more for reasons of political maneuvering than anything else; specifically, as a cudgel against House leadership to get other “less extreme” progressive bills on the short list for passage.

That can stand as an open question for the moment. Two somewhat more proximate matters of consistency raised by the proposition of single payer healthcare have me quite puzzled.

1.) Monopolies are bad – bad, BAD! – and must be eradicated immediately; preferably, in fact, stopped from ever coming into existence … um, unless they are government monopolies.

2.) Conversely, choice is good, not to say mandatory in the minds of many people, when it comes to a certain “healthcare” procedure. But for proponents of single payer healthcare, choice is anathema for all the rest of the healthcare system.

Explanations or clarifications of either or both of these contradictory points are welcome in comments.

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