James Bacon Hasn’t Heard About Medicare for All

James Bacon writes at The Bull Elephant that he doesn’t think Virginians should have health care if that means taxing the wealthy and regulating providers.

“The healthcare system is so immensely complicated, with so many moving parts, so many feedback loops, and so many hairy ethical questions of life, death, and well being, that it is exceedingly difficult for politicians or the public to understand.”

These “hairy questions of life, death, and well being” are what makes allocating health care as a commodity through market forces so immoral – and impossible, Mr. Bacon.

Also, too:

“Here’s the problem with subsidies: They’re never enough. Never ever. The political class always wants more. There’s always someone who falls between the cracks. There’s always some unmet need. There’s always a new, higher standard of care to be insisted upon. Unlike taxpayer’s pocketbooks, the demands are endless.”

Too long, don’t read James Bacon: We cannot improve health care access through regulation because it’s just too complicated, and subsidies are never enough. No program will ever meet every need, so we should do nothing at all. And by the way, some taxpayer’s pocketbooks are, in many practical ways, more or less endless.

Bacon thinks “price transparency, competition, and innovation with the goal of enhancing productivity and improving outcomes” (that is, markets), will solve the problem. And I guess that if you’re a conservative who thinks access to life-saving treatment should depend on ability to pay instead of a shared moral obligation to our fellow man (as expressed, for example, in the “red letter” Bible verses) you might be right. Only, of course, if you’re OK with the “some people will die because they cannot afford to buy insulin” part.

At the end of the day, no amount of price transparency, competition, innovation, or enhanced productivity will change this one fundamental fact: every consumer’s demand for health care will eventually become so inelastic that none of these things will matter in any way. Everyone will pay any price demanded because it keeps them alive.

Bacon thinks this is the fix because his only tool is a market, so he believes every problem is a price transparency and competition failure. In fact, we have a better chance to make our health care system more efficient by honoring our commitment to each other, accepting health care access as the human right it is, and working together to ration according to need rather than resources. In the end we all benefit because in the end we’ll all have the same need: life-saving medical care we won’t be able to pay for without help.

He has apparently not heard of Medicare for All – the best expression of this shared commitment to the common good we have today. I’ve read this legislation from cover to cover. Everyone pays in, and they do so the minute they start working. And everyone takes out, and the do so the minute they get sick. This system also costs less – and the people who oppose it do so because they generally have something to lose because it does.

Medicaid expansion has improved the lives of almost half a million Virginians, but that alone cannot save everyone. McAuliffe’s reinsurance plan won’t, and neither will Medicare for All.

The one idea Bacon doesn’t mention can get us closer. It’s time.

A Glibertarian View of the Minimum Wage at a Poorly Named Web Magazine

Thanks to Whiskey Fire, I now know about a conservative online magazine called The Federalist.  It looks like former Rick Perry policy analyst Sean Davis started this thing last September.  Davis also writes at Media Trackers, and both offer a pretty standard glibertarian conservative line with a splash of neocon and social conservatism for good measure.  Ben Domenech publishes The Federalist, and employs David Harsanyi and Mollie Hemingway as editors, and this staff list makes me wonder about something:

Why would a bunch of folks who would happily reinstate the Articles of Confederation if they could just keep the Second Amendment name their magazine The Federalist?  Don’t they realize that a huge expansion of the Federal Government was the Founders’ central political goal when they convened the Constitutional Convention?  These guys have more in common with “Centinel” and “Brutus” than with Publius.

Anyway, once there I caught a piece by Davis complaining that Obama had left out some important things we all need to know about the minimum wage.  This response to the President’s SOTU section on the subject is not the standard (and incorrect) “hiring will slow if labor costs more-supply and demand” line – Davis directly responds to two specific items in the speech.  The rest, however, looks like an argument that since most minimum wage workers are young, part-time fast food workers with poor skills, their labor is worth no more and probably less than the current minimum.  But he never comes out and says this, so I’m left with a few questions. Continue reading