Monday, March 19, 2012

Government healthcare and questions of moral behavior

Who said this?

"We go to a young girl, who’s now 18 or 16 or even younger and this is what we say, 'abandon all of your hopes, your schools will not teach you, you will not learn to read or write, you will never have a decent job, you will live in the neighborhoods of endless unemployment and poverty with drugs and violence,' but then we say to this child, 'wait, there is a way, one way, you can be somebody to someone, that will give you an apartment and furniture to fill it; we will give you a TV set, and telephone, we will give you clothing and cheap food and free medical care and some spending money besides, and in turn you only have to do one thing, that is go out there and have a baby.'”[1]

Before I tell you who said it, let me tell you why I quoted it. 

In my most previous email I mentioned that American cultural dissolution plays a critical role in our frustrations attempting to redesign U.S. healthcare. My argument is that the way people live will, to a great extent, determine how much money we will be required to provide for their medical care. In this context, I mentioned the exploding ratio of children born to single mothers, and asserted it is and will be a major contributor to runaway healthcare spending.

A reader took me to task. He argued that writing about what are “private behaviors” is futile. Government cannot impose its morals on individuals who choose to give birth outside of marriage. I counter by asserting that our massive welfare support systems incent single parentage, and directly contributes to out of control healthcare spending. By deciding to generously provide “free” healthcare we encourage the behavior that drives use of the healthcare system. Ergo, public policy is imposing a set of morals on individuals, but in this case, the moral behavior is sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

Senator Ted Kennedy, D- Mass,  saw this in 1978 when he uttered the words quoted above. Kennedy, one of the most liberal members of Congress, in whose name Pres. Obama urged passage of the Affordable Care Act, knew that our welfare programs encouraged births out of wedlock. Furthermore, he acknowledged its deleterious effects on the single mother, and on society.

Take issue with me, if you will, but you take issue with reality (and I appreciate Kennedy’s support in this). Individual choices drive a good portion of healthcare spending, and this includes the choice of single parentage. Fact.

Knowing this as fact and doing something about it are two different things. Congress and our Presidents made decisions years ago that we would financially support any and all behavior. Thereby, Congress imposed a type of amorality on us which is, of course, the “new morality.” Right now, we have to deal with the consequences of this new morality.

What to do? Well, if you love the ACA and the Congress that passed it, you will love their solution.
Classifying sterilization as preventive care should excite you; this is one of ObamaCare’s solutions. So are the Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPAB) which will decide whether to pay physicians and hospitals for various medical procedures – called rationing. 

Sterilization is the ultimate contraception (but causative for HPV, STDs, and HIV). Rationing is the ultimate choice for a government that condones all behaviors. 

Truly, we reap what we sow.   

[1] Ferrara, P. (2010) America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb. Citing Robert Carleson in Government is the Problem: Memoirs of Ronald Reagan’s Welfare Reformer. Harper Collins, New York. P 150.

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