The amazing news (to me, at least, and perhaps to you) is the degree of deception and bait-and-switch that is going on, as detailed by Betsey McCaughey in her article in today's WSJ. Excerpts:
Last September Sen. Barack Obama promised that under his health-care proposal "you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves." On Monday, President Obama repeated that promise in a speech to the American Medical Association. It's not true.
The president is barnstorming the nation, urging swift approval of legislation that is taking shape in Congress. This legislation ... will push Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls. It specifically exempts members of Congress (along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116).
Members of Congress "enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country," according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. They "can choose from among consumer-driven and high deductible plans that offer catastrophic risk protection with higher deductibles, health saving/reimbursable accounts and lower premiums, or fee-for-service (FFS) plans, and their preferred provider organizations (PPO), or health maintenance organizations (HMO)." These choices would be nice for all of us, but they're not in the offing. Instead, if you don't enroll in a "qualified" health plan and submit proof of enrollment to the federal government, you'll be tracked down and fined (sections 3101 and 6055).
For a health plan to count as "qualified," it has to meet all the restrictions listed in the legislation and whatever criteria the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes after the bill becomes law. You may think you're in a "qualified" plan, but the language suggests that only plans with managed-care controls such as the "medical home" will meet the definition (sections 3101 and 2707).
The president has promised that if you like your plan you can keep it. Mr. Kennedy's bill says that too. It's doubletalk, as the consequences of nonenrollment make clear. How big a fine will you face? The bill doesn't specify or set a limit. It says the fine will be enough to "accomplish the goal of enhancing participation in qualifying coverage" (section 161).
Once again, those who advocate universal healthcare are running up against Milton Friedman's observation that "there is no free lunch." And that's very good news. The American people don't want Obama's socialized medicine.
UPDATE: To put the whole problem of healthcare in perspective, I highly recommend Milton Friedman's 2001 essay, "How to Cure Health Care." Only a politician could fail to understand the simple yet powerful logic that MF brings to bear on this issue. HT: Greg Mankiw