Why does business align itself with conservatives in supporting the status quo of our failed healthcare system? If I am a conservative businessman, why would I choose a system that discourages personal responsibility? Why would I choose to bear the burden of my employees’ healthcare? Why would I support an anti-market system that forces many to stay in a dead-end job solely for their insurance benefits? If I support the free market, don’t I want market forces—such as performance, ability, and individual choice—to prevail? Do I really want to compete again foreign companies who have universal healthcare and therefore much lower overhead costs? (see this case study) There are historical reasons behind these questions, but I don’t understand why the fear of taxes drives business to get behind such a poorly structured system.
As candidates gear up for the 2012 presidential election, most Republicans are running on a platform that includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (AKA, “ObamaCare”). This law gets rid of some of the more harmful elements of the system such as denial of care based on a preexisting condition, the use of annual limits, insurance company monopolies that lead to abusive premium increases, and numerous inefficiencies in the system. Yet, Republicans want to get rid of it, and potentially replace it with the Paul Ryan voucher system. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. A public option would be a better way to control costs and efficiencies. But Democrats could not get it done. Republicans have successfully demonized the new law, and will make a futile attempt to repeal it (which is interesting because Republicans support almost every element in the bill when asked—in fact, many of the ideas in the bill were first proposed by Republicans. This is not about the American people!). Beside the cynical answers of trying to use the issue to spook voters, what is driving Republicans to take this position?
I want to ask my Republican friends, “Exactly which aspects of the law do you want to eliminate? Is it the market-based exchange that you are against? Do you hate the idea of guaranteeing children with chronic illness the opportunity to purchase life-saving insurance? Are you against the mandate that people take personal responsibility by participate in the system to bring down costs for all (which is how insurance is supposed to work)?” But I can hear the response now: “Well, these are all good things, but how are you going to pay for it?” This is their response to any social program. The answer, of course, is to raise taxes. We have one of the lowest taxes rates in the industrial world. Taxes are an investment into the infrastructure of freedom that allows businesses to succeed and thrive. Most businessmen would agree that a better educated workforce is preferable to one that is not. And many would agree that the public education system—in spite of its flaws—is a low-cost, efficient, and effective way to provide it. Business does not want to be shackled with the responsibility to provide all training and education for its workers. So it welcomes a public education system that turns out a qualified workforce that allows them to succeed. Their tax dollars contribute to this system—this “socialized” education system. Well, the same logic holds true for a healthy workforce. A universal, government-insured healthcare system is what will help America thrive and compete globally in the twenty-first century.