December 20th, 2014

Why single-payer died in Vermont—for now

I guess they ran out of other people’s money before they even started. Fancy that.

Vermont, the nation’s most leftist state, has given up on single-payer health insurance.

For now:

“It is not the right time for Vermont” to pass a single-payer system, Shumlin acknowledged in a public statement ending his signature initiative. He concluded the 11.5 percent payroll assessments on businesses and sliding premiums up to 9.5 percent of individuals’ income “might hurt our economy.”

Will there ever be a “right time”? Not according to some:

“If cobalt blue Vermont couldn’t find a way to make single-payer happen, then it’s very unlikely that any other state will,” said Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business.

“There will never be a good time for a massive tax increase on employers and consumers in Vermont, so they should abandon that silly idea now and get serious,” Mozloom added.

Mozloom aside, they will never stop trying. Never:

“It is time to put the interests of patients first, ahead of political expedience,” said Andrew Coates, president of Physicians for a National Health Care Program. Single-payer is “the only reform that will cover everyone, save lives and save money. Mr. Shumlin, of all our nation’s governors, knows this well.”

The rest of the article is devoted to proponents of single-payer saying why it is that although maybe the Vermont plan wasn’t quite right, single-payer is still a great idea. It just needs to be done in a different way, or at the federal level.

This really sums it up:

Gottfried has been introducing his New York single-payer bill every year since 1992. The cause is “not for the faint of heart,” he said.

And there is no question in my mind that leftists are not faint of heart. They are models of patience and dedication. The laws of economics are nothing in the face of their drive, and they see this merely as a temporary setback.

How can a thinking person make a statement like this one, and believe it? (That is, assuming the person actually does believe it, which may or may not be the case):

Oregon considered adding a public option — not the same as single-payer, but with similar challenges — to its Obamacare exchange in 2010, but ultimately decided the startup costs were too high, even if savings were forecast down the road.

“People have to ultimately understand that it’s going to cost them less even though their taxes go up,” McGuire said.

According to McGuire and those who argue similarly, the initial increase in cost will be reflected in taxes, but “ultimately” there will be savings. Based on what? Projections of folks like Jonathan Gruber? And what will the other costs of those “savings” be (in the unlikely event the savings ever do materialize), in terms of decreased choice and the decline in the quality of care for the majority of people?

What was that they say about a free lunch?

13 Responses to “Why single-payer died in Vermont—for now”

  1. blert Says:

    They utterly do not comprehend ‘moral hazard’ — nor gaming the system — nor attracting (adverse selection) astonishing numbers of ill people with extreme medical bills.

    The higher ones medical tab, the further you’d be willing to relocate to have it picked up by ‘the system.’

    In Europe, aliens are financially excluded. American insurers are back charged — at a super premium rate — for any tourist that falls ill.

    No state could pull that off.

    Vermont, as a small state, is totally behind the eight-ball.

    That ANYONE would continue to push single-payer for Vermont is telling. They simply have to be innumerate.

    ENFJ — I’d say.

    “People with the ENFJ personality type are passionate altruists, sometimes even to a fault, and they are unlikely to be afraid to take the slings and arrows while standing up for the people and ideas they believe in…”

    What you’re looking at are souls that entirely set aside reality to go with their hearts.

    Which means that you can argue, analytically, to the end of time — and get absolutely no place with them.

    “It does not emote.”

    Not being one prone to computing, you see.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “The laws of economics are nothing in the face of their drive”

    “The laws of economics” being a descriptor of an aspect of the operative laws of the reality within which we exist. Denial that deep cannot be reasoned with or persuaded.

    IMO, denial of reality is an indicator of arrested development in both the intellectual and emotional spheres, the result of which is an obsessive fanaticism.

    “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject” Winston Churchill

    Since the issue is literally a denial of infrastructural aspects of reality (life’s not fair, equality of outcome impossible) at the most basic level it is a case of, “A fanatic is a man who does, what he knows God would do . . . if only God had all the facts of the matter” Finley Peter Dunne

    Or for the secularist/atheist, what God would do if he existed, which then imposes upon the well meaning, the social obligation to work toward the ‘perfectibility of mankind’ and the creation of a utopia on earth.

    That these are impossible is irrelevant for those whose obsessional fanaticism is motivated by a rejection of the aforementioned aspects of reality.

  3. J.J. Says:

    Ask military people, who have single payer, what their health care is like. Oh yeah, they do a good job on battle filed trauma, but ask them how the day to day, sick child, pregnant woman, routine medical problems are taken care of. It’s free. It’s also mediocre, and at times, deadly. I have stories that can be told on the issue.

    The military is mostly composed of healthier, younger people than the general population, but then we can look at the VA. They represent and older, less healthy population. What kind and quality of single payer care are the vets getting? Not very good according to national reports.

    Yeah, single payer works. Many nations have it. But in those nations the care is either mediocre and/or the taxes to pay for it are very high. Single payer in Canada does not support improvements in procedures/technology. Additionally, many Canucks come south to have surgery done that they would have to wait for months, even years, to have done under their single payer system. The taxes to pay for it all are passed through to their consumer prices. Canucks from Vancouver and the surrounding area do as much consumer shopping in my neck of the woods as they can because they save tons of money by making the trip.

    Australia’s system is a bit better. They have a single payer system that provides mediocre care to all. They have a parallel private system that provides better care to those who can afford it. Clearly a system that favors the well-off, but the Aussies seem to like it. However, the taxes to support their healthcare drives consumer prices very high just as they do in Canada and New Zealand. We all know about the horror stories of Great Britain’s NHS. Also, in spite of high taxation, the NHS is broke. Advocates of single payer point to these systems but never want to look at the quality of service and what the cost is to consumer prices.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    The motivation for idealistic advocates of single payer (socialism/communism) is that there be no losers. Of course if there are no losers, there can be no winners, as any elite makes by definition any not of the elite, losers.

    The factual truth that these advocates refuse to face is that when there are no winners, eventually everyone becomes a loser because enforced equality of outcome imposes the lowest common denominator upon everyone. However, the lowest common denominator is not societal stasis but societal bankruptcy because making the industrious pay and work for the indolent is irony of ironies, literally ‘unsustainable’.

    The irony is positively Shakespearean, that in seeking the best for everyone, they ensure the worst possible outcome. ‘Progressives’ advocate a path that not only prevents progress but ensures degeneration to an ever worse state.

    In fact, the irony is biblical; “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

  5. Ray Says:

    The state of Tennessee enacted Hillarycare, the mother of Obamacare, in 1995. In less than 10 years the cost increased from $2.5 billion to $8 billion a year. It was the largest line item in the Tennessee budget and was going to bankrupt the state.

  6. Mr. Frank Says:

    If you start with the belief that medical care is a right and it should be free for everyone, you have a serious funding problem. As Vermont has figured out, there is no free lunch.

  7. physicsguy Says:

    “And there is no question in my mind that leftists are not faint of heart. They are models of patience and dedication. The laws of economics are nothing in the face of their drive, and they see this merely as a temporary setback.”

    This is what amazes me about these people. They NEVER give up! They keep right on pursuing their goals. Logic, reality, etc. NEVER penetrate their minds. That’s why they are winning and we are losing. Who among us has that drive and energy to pursue our politics at such a zealous level? I really wish I could understand such minds.

  8. Matthew M Says:

    Does the left have any utopian ideas that do not involve compulsion?

  9. vanderleun Says:

    “The laws of economics are nothing in the face of their drive, ”

    “This is what amazes me about these people. They NEVER give up! ”

    Actually, they can be stopped but it requites much more draconian measures than simple rejection or reasoned responses.

    As they say in the national parks, “Once a bear is hooked on garbage, there’s no cure.”

  10. Banned Lizard Says:

    The nub of the problem: Leading Obamites have so thoroughly established a record of untrustworthiness as to have discredited liberal solutions for the foreseeable future.
    …“ultimately” there will be savings. Based on what? Projections of folks like Jonathan Gruber?

  11. southpaw Says:

    Neo says:
    “According to McGuire and those who argue similarly, the initial increase in cost will be reflected in taxes, but “ultimately” there will be savings. Based on what? ”

    Mark Twain says in “Advice to Youth”

    “For the history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sewn thick with evidences that a truth is not hard to kill, and that a lie well told is immortal. ”

    That was true in 1882, and I suspect it always has been.

  12. Harold Says:

    It failed because socialism/statism/Islamism ALWAYS fails, sooner or later, with more or less bloodshed.

    Obama, everyone’s favorite prophet for statism, is a failure too. It’s just that the damage he’s doing isn’t at an end yet.

  13. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    I think perhaps they’re missing the point. “If single-payer can’t pass in Vermont, where can it pass?” I’d say that it might be passable, not in a true-blue state, but in a purple state — where, as Neo says, they haven’t quite run out of other people’s money yet. (The trick is to use the actual taxpayers as a cash cow to pay for other people’s stuff, but get them to vote Democrat anyway. It’s been done.)

    Another point is that Vermont is not quite as true-blue as some people assume. Many liberals are still horrified to hear that Vermont doesn’t issue gun licenses, but acts as though everybody already has one. You need to follow Federal guidelines, yes, but there aren’t any State restrictions.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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