“It’s a Slam Dunk”

Look, it is time to get serious.  Yes, America needs real health reform. And, no, ObamaCare ain’t it.

The “reform” law that was passed last year reforms nothing. It simply adds more bureaucracy, more regulation, more inconvenience, and more cost to a system that is already too bureaucratic, too regulated, too inconvenient, and waaaaaay too costly.

In every way that matters, ObamaCare makes a bad situation worse. We will get into the details of how it makes things worse as this blog rolls on, and we will offer suggestions on how to really reform health care.

But first let’s take a moment to consider why Congress enacted a law that was so misguided. You have followed the back-room shenanigans and deal making and outright corruption that secured the votes. But those were just the expediencies of the moment – the sausage making of Congress. It’s how Congress, indeed any political body, works. The Republicans do it, too. In fact, your state legislature, town council and school board all do it. They trade favors, make deals, hire friends and family members, form alliances of convenience. It is why we should minimize the influence of any and all political bodies.

What really caused this disaster is the intellectual bankruptcy and laziness of the “health policy community.”  These are the people who are supposed to be the experts. As corrupt and ignorant as Congress may be, it won’t sign-off on something unless it is endorsed by the people who are supposed to know what they are talking about. These include health economists and other academics, think tanks, journalists, and specialists working for trade associations of interested businesses.

The problem is that all these people know each other. They attend conferences together, go to parties together, talk to each other on blogs and list-serves, and sometimes even mate with one another. They become dear friends. And, like dear friends everywhere, they are reluctant to be critical of each other. They are subject to the worst kind of Group Think and begin to parrot the party line. People who disagree with the conventional thinking are soon labeled as being disagreeable and ostracized from the community, even mocked and ridiculed.

It isn’t only in health policy that this occurs. Any close-knit community will experience the same phenomenon. A recent deadly example was the “intelligence community” and its universal agreement that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Congress and the Bush Administration took their word for it – “It’s a slam dunk” said CIA Director George Tenet.  Who can argue with that?

Interestingly, business does not usually work this way. In business, the views of contrarians are welcomed. Investors have a lot of money at stake and they want to make sure that they are not missing some fatal flaw before they move ahead with a new product or marketing strategy.

Political decision makers, including whatever “policy community” is involved, do not share that concern. They don’t have anything personal at stake. Whatever happens, it is not their money on the line and very often they are not even subject to the same programs they are inflicting on the rest of us. Examples would include “urban renewal,” public housing, welfare, and now ObamaCare.

We will be exploring in some depth how this misguided conventional-wisdom and group-think has warped decision-making in health care. Stay tuned.