Obamacare’s Faulty Tower to the Sky
A seven-year-old boy is building a Tower to the Sky with wooden blocks. There is no rhyme nor reason to his construction, and he’s building his great tower on the credenza in the living room between a fragile lamp and a goldfish bowl. His mother walks by as he piles one mismatched block on top of another and says, “Son, I don’t think that tower will stand. Those are the wrong kind of blocks. Nothing matches and the blocks don’t interlock with one another.” But the little boy, determined to build his tower no matter what, says, “You’re just saying that because you want me to fail, Mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re too stupid to understand what I’m doing.” The little boy scrounges in his toy box for even more mismatched blocks and continues to balance them precariously, one on top of another. His father walks by, then stops and stares at his son’s obsessive endeavor. “My boy,” says the father, “you’re trying to achieve a remarkable thing, but it’s going to collapse. Just look at how fragile your tower is. And I’m afraid son, that when it falls, and it will, you’re going to damage that expensive lamp and kill the goldfish.” The son, exasperated by his parents’ lack of faith in the Tower to the Sky snaps. “I don’t care what you say, Dad. I’m building it because people will remember me as the boy who built the Tower to the Sky. I don’t care if it falls. I don’t care if it breaks everything in the house! I want my tower and you can’t stop me.” Inevitably, despite the warnings of his parents, and the obvious frailties and flaws in the design of the boy’s Tower to the Sky, the blocks teeter then fall, breaking the goldfish bowl and sending the delicate lamp crashing to the floor in a shattered heap.
Aside from the boy deserving an extended time-out in the Gobi Desert, one can’t help but wonder if he learned his lesson. Will he acknowledge the failure of his Tower to the Sky? No! Of course not. Instead, the impudent, arrogant boy screams at his parents, “It’s your fault! You’re so stupid, you just don’t get it! You didn’t believe in me. You did everything you could to undermine my project. It’s your fault that my tower crashed, now YOU clean it up!”
This scenario is, of course, an analogy for the short and dreadful history of Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. Michael Pramenko of Grand Junction recently wrote a guest column featured in a Western Slope newspaper in which he took on the persona of the little boy, screaming that his beloved creation had failed, blaming those who warned him about the flaws in its design for the failure of his creation! Dr. Pramenko is an Obamacare defender, and has been from the get-go, and his column titled, Critics of Obamacare now have to deliver an alternative, was akin to the boy with the broken tower demanding that his parents clean up his mess, despite their many warnings that it was a disaster waiting to happen.
Supporters of Obamacare have accused Republicans of undermining the ACA, and in Dr. Pramenko’s words, “target[ing] the piecemeal destruction of the ACA with little attention to its replacement.” The problem with that assertion is the ACA is in an inexorable process of self-destruction, and Republicans have had little to do with its failure other than acting as sideline commentators, describing the blow-by-blow disintegration of Obama’s Tower to the Sky, with an occasional interjection of, “We told you so.”
In his column, Dr. Pramenko asserted that the only viable answer to the question of American healthcare would be a government-run system. He derided free-market improvements to the existing system proposed by Conservatives as “some unspecified ‘market-based’ approach.” However, like the little boy whose Tower to the Sky failed to meet even the most modest expectations, Dr. Pramenko and other Democrats are in denial about the what is responsible for the exceptionalism of American medicine; innovation, and Free-Market competition.
Medicaid and Medicare are attempts at socialized medicine, but both have been beset for decades with burdensome bureaucracies and costly inefficiencies. Instead of subverting the entire private healthcare system for the purported goal of making sure that all Americans get access to affordable healthcare insurance, why didn’t Obama and congressional Democrats simply reform the existing programs and promote innovation and competition in the existing insurance market? The answer is easy; like the boy in the story, they wanted to be remembered for building the Tower to the Sky.
Free-markets, with competition and incentives for personal health-maintenance, are the answer. Conservative opponents of government-run medicine knew it wouldn’t work, would cost billions more than predicted, and harm the very people it was supposed to help. Socialized medicine has never been and will never be sustainable.
If Obamacare advocates were intellectually-honest they would acknowledge the numerous ACA-alternatives that have been put forth by Conservative think-tanks, legislators, and independent physician organizations such as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and other patient-centered care associations. The best “repeal and replace” Obamacare alternatives are market-based, patient-centered, portable from state to state (just like the highly competitive car insurance industry), cover pre-existing conditions, promote personal responsibility by reducing costs for healthy people, promote state and federal partnerships, and apply effective reforms to existing programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
A few weeks ago, the godfather of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, gracelessly confirmed what many believed all along; that the ACA passed only because its inner-workings and fatal flaws were intentionally hidden from the scrutiny of voters. Like the little boy in the story who knew his tower was doomed, yet refused to heed his parents’ warnings, Gruber and the architects of Obamacare want all the credit for its intended goals; universal coverage, lower costs, insuring young adults, etc., but refuse to acknowledge that, in reality, their creation is a failure resulting in fewer insured, skyrocketing costs, and disillusioned young adults who would rather pay the tax penalty than sign up for the ACA’s so-called benefits.
Instead of heaping blame on Obamacare’s opponents for its failures and demanding they clean up the mess, perhaps Obamacare supporters should admit that the ACA was inviable from its inception and requires the fixes which Conservatives have proposed all along.
Defenders of Obamacare and other faltering government programs seem to be more interested in being called “compassionate” and “caring” than they are in producing results that actually help people. When Conservatives bring up the fact that reforms are necessary to save Medicare and Social Security from going bankrupt, Liberals scream, “They’re gonna throw Granny off the cliff!” or “Republicans want old people to eat cat food and die!” It’s hard to believe Liberals are serious about compassionate policies when they block and vilify Conservative efforts to ensure that Americans who need help have a dependable source of help now and in the future.
Perhaps the Gruber revelations will bring Americans to realize that we don’t need grandiose, impossible Towers to the Sky, but rather reality-based solutions where free-markets encourage healthy competition, and preventative medicine is a personal responsibility.
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By Marjorie Haun 12/5/14