Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “universal” health-care plan died in the California legislature on Monday, in what can only be called a mercy killing.
Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated.
This reveals that liberal health-care politics is increasingly the art of the impossible: You can’t make coverage “universal” while at the same time keeping costs in check — at least without prohibitive tax increases. Lowering cost and increasing access, in other words, are separate and irreconcilable issues.
So the plan failed because it was too expensive — and because for some Democrats it wasn’t expensive enough.
Democrats also complained that the taxes the plan imposed on business, as high as 6.5% of payroll, weren’t high enough.
Voters are rightly concerned about health care, but they also don’t want to pay higher taxes to finance coverage for everyone.
This week, Hillary Clinton’s supporters attacked Barack Obama for not proposing a federal mandate that every American buy health insurance.
The rationale for this mandate is not personal responsibility but “shared responsibility,” a polite way of saying shared costs.
These arguments are based on myths, not facts.
The first myth is that it’s fair to make everyone pay the same price for health insurance. It is not: For young people who rarely use health services, this is a rip-off. If people in their 20s paid attention to politics and voted, politicians wouldn’t dare try this.
The second myth behind federal mandate proposals is this: Lack of insurance forces people into the emergency room for routine health care.
The truth is that the uninsured do not use emergency rooms more than other people.
The third myth, in the words of Mr. Edwards, is that a “system that leaves 47 million Americans without health care is a moral disgrace.”