School Choice Made a Difference

 

The Florida Gubernatorial election is finally over. Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum finally conceded the election to Republican Ron DeSantis after a recount showed DeSantis was still ahead by about 30,000 votes.

Ironically, DeSantis can thank black women for his victory. Yes, there is a solid argument that black women rejected the black candidate Gillum in favor of – their children.

According to CNN exit polling of 3,108 voters, of the roughly 650,000 black women who voted in Florida, 18% or about 117,000 chose DeSantis. This exceeded their support for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott (9%). In other words, they selected the Republican gubernatorial candidate but not the Republican senatorial candidate.

William Mattox, director of the Marshall Center for Educational Options at the James Madison Institute, writes in The Wall Street Journal that the reason is school choice.

More than 100,000 low-income students in Florida participate in the Step Up For Students program, which grants tax-credit funded scholarships to attend private schools. Even more students are currently enrolled in the state’s 650 charter schools.

Most Step Up students are minorities whose mothers are registered Democrats. Yet these “school choice moms” split their votes when it comes to protecting their ability to choose where their child goes to school.

Four years ago Governor Rick Scott narrowly won re-election for the same reason. In 2016 more than 10,000 scholarship recipients joined Martin Luther King III in Tallahassee to protest a lawsuit filed by the teachers union in America’s largest-ever school choice rally. Yet, despite this outpouring of minority support for school choice, Mr. Gillum chose to ignore the wishes of minority constituents and instead backed the teachers’ unions who oppose school choice. Black women, and 44% of Latinos, made him pay for this betrayal.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called school choice “the civil rights issue of our time.” Yet Democratic leaders refuse to acknowledge and support school choice even though it is the key to upward mobility in minority children. Politicians who claim to represent the interests of families should take heed of this Florida experience and support the interests of parents who only want what’s best for their children.

False Healthcare Promises

 

Last post we talked about Health Insurance Security. People want to know they will always have access to healthcare.

Democrats have successfully argued that they can provide this by preserving ObamaCare – or at least its provisions for protecting pre-existing conditions. Although I argued last time that this was a false narrative, it was an effective political message – not because it was true but because it provoked the fear of losing your health insurance.

But this status quo of defending ObamaCare will not last. The reality of its failures will become increasingly evident as time goes on. Insurance premiums have doubled for individuals and risen 140% for families. Hospitals and doctors are fleeing ObamaCare networks and 75% of plans are now highly restrictive. A record pace of consolidation among hospitals and physician practices has occurred which only drives up healthcare prices as competition is eliminated. An alternative plan will have to be developed by both parties to show they care about your healthcare.

The Democratic plan is sure to be what Senator Bernie Sanders has called “Medicare for All.” Sanders ran for president in 2016 on a platform of socialism that included this promise for your healthcare. It has gained support from other Progressives in the last two years.

Scott W. Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, recently weighed in on the false promises of Medicare for All in The Wall Street Journal. Advocates insist that such care is “free” but grownups know there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Atlas says, “The constitution of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) states: “You have the right to receive NHS services free of charge” – ignoring that the U.K. funds the program by taxing citizens some $160 Billion a year, even with its severe limits on access to specialists, drugs and technology.”

Estimates are that California’s cost alone for single-payer healthcare would exceed $400 Billion a year – more than twice the state’s annual budget. Conservative estimates of the national cost exceed $32 Trillion over the first ten years. Doubling federal income and corporate taxes would be insufficient to cover the expense.

Atlas rightly points out that the problems don’t end with the high cost of single-payer healthcare. The natural reaction of the government to respond to such high expense is to limit access to healthcare. This is done by limiting the number of physicians, limiting the number of appointments, and limiting the approval of costly treatments. This has been the default response of every country where single-payer healthcare exists today.

The result of this denied access to healthcare is predictable. Increased pain, suffering, permanent disability and death are inevitable. The best healthcare in the world is useless if it is unavailable.

Here’s a reality check of waiting times for countries with single-payer systems today:

United Kingdom

  • 2 million patients on the NHS waiting lists
  • 362,600 patients waited longer than four months for hospital treatment as of March last year
  • 95,252 patients waited longer than six months
  • 4,300 patients were on the waiting list more than a year by July
  • 19%of patients wait 2 months or longer to begin their first “urgent” cancer treatment
  • 17% wait more than 4 months for brain surgery

 

Canada

  • The median waiting time between seeing a general practitioner and a specialist was 10.2 weeks.
  • 5 months between seeing a doctor and beginning treatment
  • 3 months to see an ophthalmologist
  • 4 months to see an orthopedist
  • 10 months for orthopedic hip or knee replacement
  • 5 months to see a neurosurgeon
  • 8 months for neurosurgery
  • 3 months for initial treatment of heart disease

 

These excessive waiting times are not only for seeing doctors but also for obtaining diagnostic studies like CT Scans, MRI scans, and heart catheterizations, as well as to obtain the newest drugs for cancer and other serious diseases. Aside from transplants, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which compares other countries, states, “waiting lists are not a feature in the United States.”

Of course, these excessive waiting times lead to poorer healthcare outcomes. Single-payer systems have proved inferior to the U.S. in outcomes for almost all serous diseases, including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

While America is considering implementing a single-payer system like Medicare for All, those countries that currently have such a system are backing away from it with increased spending on private care. Sweden has increased its spending on private care for the elderly by 50% in the last decade, abolished its government’s monopoly over pharmacies, and made other reforms. Last year the U.K. spent more than $1 Billion on private care according to the Financial Times. In Denmark patients can now choose a private hospital or a hospital outside the country if their wait time exceeds one month. Canada is also feeling the pressure on excessive waiting times and is increasing spending on private care for relief.

Atlas concludes: “A single-payer “guarantee” is no promise of access to quality medical care. If brought to the U.S., the only reliable promises of single-payer would be worse health care for Americans and higher taxes. America’s poor and middle class would suffer the most from a turn to single-payer because only they would be unable to circumvent the system.”

 

Health Insurance Security

 

Perception is reality. That’s the message voters have declared in the recent mid-term elections.

Now that Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives, the pundits are all analyzing why. There’s no doubt that healthcare was a big issue, perhaps the most determining issue in the minds of voters. This is surprising since Democrats created the current healthcare mess we call ObamaCare and Republicans are trying to fix it.

Robert Laszewski, insurance industry analyst, writes in his blog that Democrats think the mid-term elections vindicate their precious ObamaCare, but Laszewski says the real issue is healthcare insurance security. He says people are most concerned with the ability to have healthcare insurance under any circumstances.

The perception of the voters is that Republicans want to take away that security by eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions, depriving people of Medicaid, and taking away financial assistance programs. Democrats were successful in selling this false narrative and Republicans failed to counter with the truth.

The truth is that ObamaCare is failing in the individual health insurance market:

  • In March 2016 there were 20.2 million people covered in the individual health insurance market (according to Mark Farrah and Associates)
  • In March 2017 that count was down to 17.7 million
  • In March 2018 the count was 15.7 million – a 22% drop in two years.

 

ObamaCare hits the middle class the hardest – those who don’t qualify for subsidies:

  • In March 2016 there were 7,520,939 people covered in the off-exchange individual health insurance market where subsidies are not available.
  • In March 201l7 there were 5,361,451 covered
  • In March 2018 there were 4,004,522 covered

 

Why has the ObamaCare individual market melted-down in these last two years?

The premiums and deductibles are sky-high for all but the lowest income patients.

For example, in Northern Virginia, the cheapest 2019 ObamaCare Silver plan for a family of four making a subsidy eligible $65,000 a year costs $4,514. That plan has a $6,500 deductible – which means the family must spend $11,014 on eligible health care costs before collecting other than nominal first dollar benefits.

The same family, but earning too much to be eligible for the subsidies (as 40% of families do) would have to spend $19,484 in premiums and $6,500 for the deductible – a total of $25,984 in eligible costs before they would collect any meaningful benefit.

This explains why the number of people with healthcare insurance is declining. Many have decided healthcare insurance is too expensive and not worth the cost. They are electing to go without coverage until they are sick – and then signing up for coverage because they can still qualify despite their pre-existing condition. This “gaming of the system” makes sense for them – but raises the costs for everyone else.

The reality is that protections for pre-existing conditions are now accepted by both parties as a necessary requirement for any healthcare system. The only real debate is how to prevent this “gaming of the system” that drives up costs.

There remains debate over the value of Medicaid – even most politicians don’t understand the evils of this system that denies people access to healthcare and lowers their healthcare outcomes. But even red states like Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho recently approved ballot measures to expand Medicaid. They will regret this decision as the expansion leads to higher budget pressure to reduce money for other important needs like schools, roads, and law enforcement – without improving healthcare.

The perception of the public right now is that Democrats offer a better answer for healthcare – but the reality is they have no real answers. They are defending a failing system with scare tactics about any changes. Republicans must do a better job of selling real reform ideas that will still protect healthcare insurance security.