“As The Health Care Leviathan Slouches…”

“As the health care leviathan slouches toward a final vote in the House of Representatives — or at least a final “deeming” — it is worth taking one final look at what’s at stake… In the end, this vote is not about the corruption of the legislative process — although this has been tawdry and sleazy almost every step of the way… Nor is this vote about the massive new spending and debt… It’s not about the higher taxes and higher premiums that will sock millions of American workers and businesses, either…. And this vote is not even about how this bill will diminish the quality of health care in this country… All these things are bad. But they are not the worst things about this bill.

At its core, this vote is about freedom and the type of country we want to live in.

Health care is one-sixth of the US economy. It involves some of the most important, personal and private decisions in our lives. This bill would give the government unprecedented control over both the economy and those decisions.

Insurance coverage would be mandated for both employers and individuals. Government would determine what benefits insurance would have to include and force Americans to purchase health insurance that satisfies government mandates. This might require Americans who are satisfied with their insurance to switch to a plan that includes the benefits the government requires, even if that is more expensive or includes benefits they don’t want or are morally opposed to.

Insurance companies themselves would become little more than public utilities, protected from real competition, but with every aspect of their operation regulated and controlled by the government.

And once in the doctor’s office, government would micromanage medical decisions, deciding what treatments are most effective, or, frighteningly, most cost-effective.

All this, while accomplishing one of the most massive redistributions of wealth in US history. Millions more Americans will be added to the “dole,” making them more dependent on government. America will have taken a huge step down the road to becoming a European-style social-welfare state.

That is what is at stake here. If this bill passes, America may be less healthy, and it will likely be less prosperous. And, almost certainly, it will be less free.”

Michael Tanner is a Cato Institute senior fellow.

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