Health care just another government mandate

This viewpoint, which reflects those of Freedom Communications, was written by the editorial staff at the Brownsville (Texas) Herald.

T he passage of the federal health care bill is likely the result of a confluence of various factors.

A costly existing system, primarily due to doctor shortages, the cost of existing regulation and hefty lawsuit awards that drove up costs and insurance premiums, convinced many that change — any change — was necessary.

Opponents of the plan did a bad job convincing the public that a better option would be less, not more government, in the form of more reasonable rules regarding plaintiff awards, and policies determined by the people and not their employers, including the freedom to buy insurance from companies licensed in other states.

Vitriol and hyperbole did nothing to win favor for the opponents either. Many statements were so outrageous their inaccuracy was obvious.

Another problem was ignorance, both among the undecided public and those who opposed the bill.

Take, for instance Sandy Probst. An organizer of the Tea Party in McAllen, Texas, Probst sought to raise alarm flags by telling reporters that nationalized health care would throw the nation into uncharted territory.

“Never has there been anything that the federal government has required us to buy,” she said last week. “It’s unconstitutional.”

She’s right on the unconstitutionality, but legal limits haven’t deterred government officials from enacting laws — or the public from accepting them — for nigh over two centuries.

And this bill is nothing new; most people see it as a simple expansion of existing systems that include Medicare, Medicaid and health plans for veterans and federal employees. All those programs are rife with waste, fraud and errors, but they exist.

And it’s hardly the first time the government has forced us to buy anything, either directly or indirectly. How many people would not have bought a new television set in the past year or so if the government hadn’t mandated a change to high-definition signals?

Government mandates have led to many things we now take for granted, such as safety belts in cars, unleaded gasoline and other things legislated into ubiquity. People might agree with the premises behind such mandates, but they are prevalent because we can’t choose not to have them.

And we pay for all of them, even if we don’t realize it they are simply part of the overall cost of the cars we buy and gas prices we pay, or because we can’t see another option.

Even many services are forced upon us by government at all levels. Our neighbor might be a legal genius, but if he hasn’t passed a state exam, which requires formal schooling rather than independent study, he can’t serve as our legal representative.

Other businesses, from hair braiding to nail polishing and yes, even insurance coverage, are similarly restricted. They force us to make certain government-approved purchases by steering us to certain vendors or limiting our options.

So we should be used to this type of force-feeding. And we’ve seen it enough to know how things will turn out: The federal health care system will be filled with problems, but instead of recognizing the cause and bailing out, the only proposed fixes will come in the form of still more government — not less.