‘RINO Care’ paves path to socialized medicine

By WND Staff

Editor’s note: A correction was made to this column in the fifth paragraph, Aug. 22, 2019.

By Denison Smith

While members of the Republican Party have historically cast themselves as champions of free markets, some Senate Republicans are teaming up with Democrats to push the United States ever closer to socialized medicine.

Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., The Lower Health Care Costs Act (LHCC) is a bill that would permit the federal government to impose price controls on doctors and hospitals throughout the nation. While the legislation proclaims to solve the problem of surprise medical billing, undermining free markets would only serve to worsen the issue.

Surprise medical billing occurs when patients are treated by hospitals outside their insurance networks often in emergency situations. Out-of-network emergency rooms visits can often trigger unexpected bills for thousands of dollars. Likewise, a patient can be left on the hook if a doctor that hasn’t opted into an insurance network participates in one’s care.

Although these surprise bills are a tragic reality for many patients, the LHCC, and the ideology behind it, would only serve to create more problems. Passage of the legislation would strengthen the power of big insurance companies, lower Americans’ quality and access to care, and allow the federal government to limit the freedom of health-care markets.

The LHCC would force health-care providers to set a “median in-network rate” for medical services, which would be a price control on the market akin to Medicare rates, which are artificially set by government subsidization. By not compensating doctors for services at prices set by the market, health-care services, surgical procedures and emergency services would experience shortages directly attributable to government intrusion backed by the Big Insurance lobby.

Now, the proponents of free markets and members of the medical community are speaking out.

Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of Turning Point USA, eviscerated the idea of medical price controls in a tweet. He wrote, “Why are some so-called ‘Republicans’ like @senalexander teaming up with Dems to push a destructive healthcare bill that would cause doctor shortages? Republicans in the House & Senate need to say NO to #RINOCARE!” referring to Alexander’s perplexing and grossly disingenuous support for the price-fixing bill. Leading conservative voices, including Donald Trump Jr., have helped Kirk in his effort to publicize and expose RINO Care for what it really is.

And yet, in a recent op-ed, Sen. Alexander had the audacity to declare that his bill would be “market-driven” despite his efforts to dictate what the market will charge. He even suggested that socialized health care is inevitable. In the op-ed, he proclaimed, “If Congress cannot address even obvious market failures in private health care, a federal takeover of our entire health-care sector will become that much more attractive.”

“This legislation does not allow the federal government to set rates,” Alexander declared – an evidently false claim. He even asserted the LHCC “empowers local markets to determine the price of health care,” despite the bill simultaneously undermining the very bedrock of a free-market economic system.

Besides, the bill is clearly an affront to medical professionals who have spent years honing and refining their craft. Surgeons, doctors and other medical staff spend countless hours providing surgeries to patients at considerable personal and financial risk.

“Surgeons do not want their patients to bear the consequences of the narrowing of networks and other gaps in insurance coverage that lead to surprise medical bills. However, the solutions should not come on the backs of the physicians caring for the patients,” executive cirector of the American College of Surgeons Dr. David Hoyt said in a statement.

“Congress should consider the large-scale consequences for the U.S. health-care system as a whole before applying such sweeping solutions,” Dr. Hoyt concluded. Instead, the organization advocates for an independent dispute resolution process that would allow insurance providers and hospitals to negotiate settlements, removing the patient from the middle.

Independent arbitration is obviously the best solution to problematic surprise medical billing, as it would preserve the integrity of free markets. Republicans who defend free markets must soundly reject measures like price controls, or risk losing all economic legitimacy. Ultimately, passing price controls would likely sound the death knell for free-market health care and set the United States on an irreversible course to socialized medicine.

Denison Smith is a former assistant attorney general for the state of Idaho, staffer for Sen. James McClure, R-Idaho, and trustee of the Reason Foundation. He has over three decades of experience in investment banking specializing in high tech, including as the former regional vice president of the Pioneer Fund of Boston, the fourth-oldest mutual fund in the United States. He is also chairman of Longevity Health Foundation, a new start-up devoted to lowering health care costs through research and education.


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