What others say: Price is right to address ObamaCare shortcomings

  • Wednesday, December 7, 2016 4:30pm
  • Opinion

The belief among Democrats that a Republican could never win another presidential election was apparently so firm that they’re still in a state of shock. They’re even more stunned that Donald Trump has dared to name an ObamaCare critic as his health-care point man — which makes for an instructive moment.

Tom Price, a six-term Georgia Congressman and mild-mannered orthopedic surgeon, is an unlikely villain. But liberals are already saying the Health and Human Services nominee will shred the social contract, leave poor people and cancer patients panhandling for care, and jail women for their reproductive decisions. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood claims that Mr. Price “poses a grave threat to women’s health in this country.” Earth to the abortion lobby: Declining to mandate and federally subsidize birth control coverage is not the same as “banning” it.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association is facing an internal and social-media revolt over an anodyne statement that called Mr. Price “a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions as well as reduce excessive regulatory burdens.” Supposedly this was a betrayal of doctors and patients, or something, but the big health-care societies always cater to power. They do so because so much of medicine is decided by government.

Mr. Price’s nomination is a refreshing signal that such state control isn’t an inevitability or necessity, starting with replacing ObamaCare. Most liberals are getting the bends coming up from their false triumphalism. They’ve spent years claiming the center-right vision for health care isn’t worth serious study while mocking Republicans for supposedly futile repeal votes. Maybe Republicans meant what they said.

You’d think that the people who designed and enforced a failed program might show more humility, or at least stop lecturing others. Even Hillary Clinton’s staff recognized the law is imploding. In a private Nov. 23, 2015 memo published by WikiLeaks, Chris Jennings, a former Obama aide who joined the campaign, wrote that the law’s performance is “at best, disconcerting” and identified other “troubling” signs.

One of them is that only about eight million people have paid the tax penalty for violating the individual mandate to buy insurance, and another 12 million have received regulatory exemptions. In other words, more people who were supposed to benefit from ObamaCare have opted out than have enrolled.

Now Democrats are assailing Mr. Price for proposing alternatives to the mess they created. The Republican, who took over the House Budget Committee from Paul Ryan, is a thoughtful and well-informed problem solver. Unlike many of his colleagues, Mr. Price hasn’t dodged details and specifics. He proposed an alternative to ObamaCare during the 2009-10 debate and in the years since he’s put flesh on the bones, including with legislative language.

Mr. Price’s Empowering Patients First Act relies on fixed-value tax credits to stabilize the insurance markets outside of employer-sponsored coverage. The switch to a defined contribution from a defined-benefit model is based on the transition to 401(k)s from pensions.

The American Medical Association is also right about Mr. Price’s opposition to central health-care planning. ObamaCare says the HHS Secretary “shall” write more than 1,800 regulations, and HHS has put out tens of thousands of pages of rule-makings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employment among “medical and health services managers” has increased by 31.5% since 2011. These are administrative workers who don’t treat patients but merely ensure compliance with federal and state mandates, and they help explain why U.S. health care is so expensive.

On that score, Mr. Trump also excelled by making Seema Verma his director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with its trillion-dollar budget. She’s an architect of the Health Indiana Plan under former Governor Mitch Daniels and then Mike Pence that makes Medicaid more like private insurance and encourages beneficiaries to contribute to their own care. Ms. Verma even got a waiver from the Obama HHS, which in general has tried to suppress state innovation.

Republicans will have challenges as they attempt to transcend their own divisions and take responsibility for health-care policy for the first time in a decade. But sending Mr. Price over to HHS is one of Mr. Trump’s better personnel decisions.

— The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 7

More in Opinion

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.