December 2 2013
I am a bad person. Or at least, I am a bad person, as you probably are, too, if you accept the premise of Colbert King’s Saturday column in the Washington Post. Mr. King supports ObamaCare in all its flawed glory and, if you don’t, well, you are a baddie.
Mr. King, who was dismayed by the “bloviating” of talking heads against his beloved piece of massive social legislation, visits a Baptist church to pull moral rank on the rest of us:
The same weekend, in a section of our nation’s capital where pompous politicians and self-important opinion-makers seldom venture, the Affordable Care Act was the subject of thanks and praise at the First Baptist Church at Randolph Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW.
The talk-show criticism and the pulpit defense crystallized the Obamacare debate. Drawn into sharp relief is the struggle taking place in this country between doing what is right and good and an unashamed indulgence in the immorality of indifference.
ObamaCare in Mr. King’s view is “right and good” but people who oppose it are indulging in “immorality.” And we’re even unashamed!
For King, there is no argument over whether ObamaCare is the right way to go in dealing with the medical needs of the poor. He’s decided and he’s got his fingers in his ears if anybody else wants to speak.
This column shows an insular point of view and an unwillingness to entertain alternative solutions to problems. Commentary’s Seth Mandel, without whom I might have missed King’s offensive column, thinks that we’re likely to hear the bad-people argument a lot from now on:
ObamaCare’s defenders don’t have much left at this point, so they’re going to try loud, self-righteous hectoring to drown out the truth.
It may feel good for Mr. King to become self-righteous. But he appears unwilling to face a hard truth about ObamaCare: while moving hundreds of thousands of low-income people onto Medicaid, ObamaCare will likely make Medicaid less accessible. The Galen Institute’s Grace Marie Turner, one of the foremost experts on health care, explains in an email how this will work:
This joint federal-state program is a safety-net program for 55 million of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans. Unfortunately, the low reimbursement rates for doctors serving Medicaid patients in most states make it very difficult for many on Medicaid to find doctors when they need care.
Obamacare will bring as many as 19 million additional people into the Medicaid program to compete with the existing users for care. This will make it even more difficult for those on Medicaid today to get a doctor — particularly a specialist — to see them, since the health law does not increase the number of providers available to provide actual medical care. Many will be forced into hospital emergency rooms for routine care.
The New York Times quotes Hector Flores, a primary-care doctor in East Los Angeles who has 26,000 patients in his practice, more than one-third of whom are on Medicaid: “There could easily be 10,000 patients looking for us, and we’re just not going to be able to serve them.”
I would suggest that Mr. King quit—um—bloviating and find out more about health care. Ditto intellectual humility.
Decent people—and one can be a decent person (pace Mr. King) and hold positions on health care different from the worthy preachers Mr. King quotes—want want a health care system that serves all of us, rich and poor. An incremental approach to reform probably could have brought beneficial changes to many people without doing as much harm as ObamaCare appears to do.
If you just want to give low-income an insurance card to put in their wallets, ObamaCare is dandy.
If you want to help low-income people obtain genuine medical care, then ObamaCare is likely to be less dandy, though it certainly makes Mr. Colbert feel good...about himself.