Hillman column: Jared Polis’ health care hypocrisy
Just two years after Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a costly, unworkable universal health care ballot measure, Rep. Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate for governor, is sidling up with the same kooky progressives who brought us the failed ColoradoCare proposal by touting “Medicare for all.”
Coloradans should be skeptical that the $387 Million Man really means, “Medicare for you – but not for me.” After all, he can buy his way out of a lousy government health care system after he wrecks health care for the rest of us.
Amendment 69 was rejected 79 percent to 21 percent by Colorado voters who were wary of its enormous cost and outrageous expansion of government. At $36 billion per year, ColoradoCare would have more than doubled the size of state government but offered no guarantee that health care would be any better.
While Polis publicly opposed Amendment 69 in 2016, he co-sponsored federal Medicare-for-all legislation (HR 676), which is even more costly than ColoradoCare.
In a campaign ad, Polis now parrots Amendment 69 propaganda that “Health care is a human right.” That sounds noble and makes a nice bumper sticker, but health care is not a right — it’s an entitlement that must be paid for by someone.
If health care is a right, then what about food and housing? Is everyone entitled to food and housing at taxpayer expense?
Progressive politicians like Polis are mimicking socialist countries where heavy-handed governments magically bestow “rights” on people to appease the masses. But transforming an economic disparity into a government entitlement doesn’t solve the problem.
ColoradoCare’s cost-control provisions would have limited benefits (rationing), increased co-pays and deductibles (paid by consumers), and reduced payments to doctors and hospitals (resulting in fewer doctors and hospitals). Everyone would equally share in rationing, higher costs and shortages.
That’s democratic socialism — equal distribution of misery.
Forty years ago, health care and insurance weren’t so costly. People paid doctors and hospitals for their services and relied on insurance to cover high-cost procedures. Then do-gooder politicians decided to mandate that insurance companies offer and consumers pay for certain coverages. Government can mandate all the “goodies” it wants, but they still cost something, so the very consumers who receive these benefits, in turn, pay more for insurance. Health “insurance” became a coerced system of financing our medical bills.
Economist Thomas Sowell reminds us, “The first law of economics is scarcity: There’s never enough of anything to go around. The first law of politics is to ignore the first law of economics.”
In the last 10 years under two Democratic governors, the number of Coloradans who receive health care through Medicaid has nearly tripled to 1.4 million (almost one-fourth of us). During that time, state spending on health care and human services programs has grown five times faster than spending on K-12 education and eight times faster than spending on transportation.
Now, progressive Democrats like Polis want to raise taxes for education and transportation, but those tax increases wouldn’t be necessary if previous Democratic governors hadn’t expanded social welfare entitlements in the belief that “health care is a right.”
Ten years ago, K-12 education received 43 percent of the general fund budget; health care and human services received 30 percent. If today’s budget were allocated at the same rate, K-12 education would receive an additional $763 million. That’s a 15 percent increase — enough to increase school funding by $803 per student and to entirely wipe out the erstwhile “negative factor” that siphons money away from public schools in order to pay for Medicaid spending.
This year, Colorado voters face a critical choice that will decide whether we take an irreversible step to become Little California by electing an out-of-touch Boulder progressive as governor and passing massive tax increases.
Instead, we should reject the fallacy that “health care is a right,” insist that our public schools be properly funded without raising taxes, and require government to live within its budget — just like we, the taxpayers, must do.
Mark Hillman served as State Treasurer and Senate Majority Leader. To read more or comment, go to http://www.MarkHillman.com
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