Trying Out A New Villain

As expected, Massachusetts’ universal health care program (a.k.a. ObamaCare Lite) is running into problems. And the Boston Globe, desperate to find the magic formula to make it all work to justify their demands for it, is auditioning a new villain for the piece. And make no mistake — they need a bad guy who they can blame for the current system’s failures. They need to rally people’s passions for “reform” and “change,” and the easiest way is to pick a fiend for everyone to hate. It’s a workable variant on Alinsky’s rule about ” pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Initially, it was easy. The eternal target of the left, Big Business, was practically ready-made for the situation. They had Big Insurance and Big Pharma, straight from central casting, as their bad guys. So in Massachusetts, they did the logical, sensible thing. Since insurance companies are licensed and regulated by the state, and have to get state permission to raise their premiums, it was a simple matter: just don’t allow the insurance companies to charge people more. That’ll work like a dream, right?

Wrong.

Insurance companies, like Big Oil and other very big companies, actually tend to operate on very thin profit margins. Single-digit annual profits are actually quite typical. As the old saying goes, they make it up in volume — but that means that changes to their rate structure will also have very big effects. Earlier this year, when Massachusetts denied many insurance companies’ requests for rate hikes, several of them pointed out — honestly, as such tightly-regulated businesses have to keep their books open — that without rate hikes, they would be losing money. Some of them even publicly contemplated closing up shop in the Bay State.

At that point, the control freaks who run the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (also known as “Democrats”) finally recognized a harsh reality: their power over the insurance companies was based on a single threat: “do what we tell you, or you won’t be allowed to do business at all here.” The insurance companies were getting close to calling that bluff by simply saying “OK” and leaving of their own initiative, on their own terms and their own timeline.

That appears to have given a grand klong to the Powers That Be in the bluest of blue states. Because all of a sudden they’ve stopped demonizing Big Insurance, and are flailing for a new way to put the pieces together.

Trotting out the first trial balloon is the ever-reliable Boston Globe, who is telling the insurance companies to “work smarter, not harder” and “do more with less.”

A more modest increase for customers, with the difference covered by lower profit margins for insurers and lower reimbursements to hospitals and doctors. At every level, insurers and providers must strive to make sure that waste is cut, not services. Only such a concerted effort, step by step in the process, can succeed in reducing the staggering rate of medical-care increases.

So, to translate, the increased costs should not be borne strictly by the insurance companies, but shared with the actual health care providers. After all, insurance companies can pull up stakes and move on, but hospitals are actual buildings with zillions of dollars of equipment and other expensive stuff, so they can’t move on so readily. And as for doctors… well, they’ve got their patients to care for, so we can count on that pesky Hippocratic Oath to keep most of them from scramming. Besides, if ObamaCare comes to pass, skipping state lines won’t work, either. Insurance companies can just get out of the health insurance business altogether and focus on other areas, but doctors don’t have that option.

The fundamental problem with Massachusetts Care (and, by extension, ObamaCare) is that the only way the advocates have to push it is to find a villain to demonize and rally people against. And there simply aren’t any villains in the story. Nor are there any real heroes. And nor are there any victims.

There are just people. People with differing — and occasionally conflicting — priorities and goals and needs.

Is there a magic solution that will make everyone happy? No.

Is there a magic solution that everyone can live with? Maybe.

Is there a magic solution that the government can come up with that everyone can live with? Absolutely not.

Because the government — especially this regime — sees only one tool in its toolbox: force. Compulsion. Coercion. And that solution simply won’t work in this case. Because instead of trying to deal with each other, all parties concerned will be fighting to get the government on their side, and against the others.

And “the government” isn’t some faceless, mindless, impartial obelisk. It’s people, too. People who understand that the power and authority they enjoy (again, especially the current regime) is based on remaining in office, so they’re going to keep that in mind while hammering out their “perfect” solution. So satisfying the priorities and goals and needs of all parties will take a back seat to making certain the struggle is “won” by those who can best help the powers that be remain the powers that be.

Or, rather, who will get screwed.

Or, even more accurately, who will get screwed first. Because in the end, we’ll all get screwed.

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