John Ransom

“AmyCare is about the free market, AmyCare is about small business, AmyCare is about affordable health care for Colorado’s working families,” Stephens told the assembled media about her bill supporting healthcare exchanges according to the Denver Post.

Stephens’ then-colleague, Senator Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) explained the opposition to AmyCare in the broadest terms. “I see just a few problems with [the bill] to create a Colorado health insurance exchange: the policy, the drafting, and the politics. Otherwise, it’s a great idea,” he concludes wryly.

As Mitchell pointed out, many free market healthcare reform advocates think that the central problem with healthcare is that the government is too involved.

“Liberty activists start with the observation America lacks a free market in health care or anything close,” says Mitchell. “Government has long been a major player in controlling, funding, regulating and delivering health care and insurance.”

The biggest problem for healthcare is inflation. Inflation is “always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon,” observed economist Milton Friedman. Even before federal policy created pools of targeted money that spawned inflation in real estate and college tuition, federal policy created pools of targeted money that are driving up healthcare costs.

Obamacare was supposed to keep those costs under control. That one of the main arguments for nationalized healthcare. Yet Europe, which has long had nationalized healthcare, is suffering from the same round of inflation that the U.S. has, according to a special report from the Economist:

Across Europe, healthcare is barely managing to cover its costs. Not only are the methods for raising funds to cover its costs inadequate, but, of even greater concern, the costs themselves are set to soar. According to World Bank figures, public expenditure on healthcare in the EU could jump from 8% of GDP in 2000 to 14% in 2030 and continue to grow beyond that date. The overriding concern of Europe’s healthcare sector is to find ways to balance budgets and restrain spending. Unless that is done, the funds to pay for healthcare will soon fall short of demand.

It’s the inevitable result of government intervention in free markets. An attempt to “legislate” a healthcare market in any of the states will bring with it representatives of industry, trade groups, political committees and attorneys negotiating for a better deal from the states on behalf of their interests, not the interests of patients.

And apparently we have another U.S. Senate Wannabe in Stephens who doesn’t understand it.

At least if she goes to D.C. there won’t be a training period. She’ll show up at the United States Senate already out of touch with regular voters, with none of that messy waiting around for her head to be turned.

Colorado’s version of healthcare exchange under Stephens’ AmyCare are controlled by “Board members [who] are political appointees,’ according to Linda Gorman, a healthcare policy analyst at the Independence Institute. “Three members, the Executive Director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Commissioner of Insurance, and the Director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade are non-voting. The 9 voting members ‘should’ have demonstrated expertise in at least one of 11 different areas including ‘the purchase of health insurance coverage,’ ‘information technology,’ starting a small business, and ‘administration of a public or private health care delivery system.’”

That seems like an awful lot of bureaucracy for something that Stephens thinks is supposed to promote free markets for healthcare. What happened to a patient having a business relationship with their doctor? Where are the patients in all this? What happened to the focus on health?

Government intervention happened.

Health insurance is the only type of insurance that is regulated under federal law. This monopoly power has created a crisis in healthcare according to at least one expert.

As John Graham at the Pacific Research Institute, a public policy think tank centered on free market solutions notes, it is not enough to repeal ObamaCare, but we have to “replace it with reform that puts the American people—not employers or government—in control of our access to medical services.”

That won’t happen under Stephens’ version of healthcare reform. And the GOP in Colorado it seems is good with that.

Graham argues: “One of the goals of effective health reform is health insurance that is owned by the individual and portable from job to job and state to state. For more than half a century, Congress has failed to correct the flaw in the Internal Revenue Code that discriminates against such health insurance, and given employers monopoly control of our health dollars.”

Instead barriers have been created by special interests like insurance companies, pharma, political parties and politicians like Stephens in order to control the flow of dollars at the expense of you and me.

Today you get more choices in dish soap than you do in healthcare.

We shouldn’t have to pick between ObamaCare or RomneyCare or AmyCare and then be told that we’ve had a choice.

That’s not reform. That’s not free markets.

And it’s more proof that the GOP doesn’t know the difference.

But Amy does have nice hair and teeth, doesn't she?

John Ransom

John Ransom’s writings on politics and finance have appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Colorado Statesman, Pajamas Media and Registered Rep Magazine amongst others. Until 9/11, Ransom worked primarily in finance as an investment executive for NYSE member firm Raymond James and Associates, JW Charles and as a new business development executive at Mutual Service Corporation. He lives in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom.

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