On Monday, much of Missouri experienced a complete solar eclipse, the last of its kind in the state until 2024, when Cape Girardeau will be ground zero for science geeks. For other areas of the state, the next eclipse will be a tad more distant; Kansas City’s next total solar eclipse will happen early in the 23rd Century, in 2205. Whatever your perspective, though, it can be said with mathematical precision that you can depend on astronomical events like this to happen regularly.
Unfortunately, bad policy can also recur like an eclipse—and sadly, not nearly as infrequently as Kansas City’s two-hundred year solar eclipse cycle.
Seven years ago, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) on a party-line vote and into law. Not only has that law disrupted the health care of millions of Americans—particularly rural Americans—but it has doubled down on a broken status quo that puts “insurance” at the center of our health care system rather than care. Forcing people to purchase value-questionable comprehensive insurance plans as a stand-in for actual care has not worked so far, and it will not work in the future.
But what’s especially frustrating is that some of the same folks who made Obamacare the law of the land now want to commit even further to a government-centric approach to health care policy, labeling it “bipartisanship.” I submit that bipartisanship that views government as the white knight of health care is not an appropriate compromise position, nor is it the solution to our country’s health care problems. The market is.
Market solutions to health care require reliable pricing signals established by the transacting parties, not the continued reliance on a third-party negotiator for services that has affected care quality, cost, and access over the last half-century. That means disintermediating insurance in our health care system. It means massively overhauling Medicaid to ensure our most vulnerable receive the care they need and that the program doesn’t bankrupt us in the process. It means clearing the way for people to freely help one another through licensing and regulatory reform. It means, in other words, often doing precisely the opposite of what Obamacare supporters want government to do—rather than get government more involved in our health care, it means getting it less involved.
I hope that good policy won’t be eclipsed by a broken Obamacare health care system that continues to hurt millions of Americans. But I especially hope the bad policies driven by Obamacare aren’t exacerbated yet again by another cycle of bad government-centric policy, now seven years on from its last appearance. We’ve seen these mistakes before, and we don’t really need to see them again.