Democrats, Republicans and the government destruction of health care

Published 10:05 am Monday, May 8, 2017

I have a quick question for my left-leaning friends. By a show of hands, how many of you like the new health care bill that was pushed through Congress by republicans this week?


And now, for my conservative friends, how many of you thought the original Affordable Care Act was a well-crafted piece of legislation?

Not one of you?

Now let me ask all of you something, and be honest: does anybody really think our health care system is better off than before the government got involved in the first place?

No? Well at least we can all agree on something.

The fact of the matter is that as soon as the government decided it was going to further extend its influence over the rules that govern health insurance, you could have predicted that this is exactly where we’d wind up.

When congressional Democrats decided in 2010 to steamroll Obamacare through congress, voting for a bill that house leadership at the time said needed to be passed so we could all find out what was in it, the clock started ticking and it was just a matter of time until Republicans would seek to exact political revenge.

Of course, the fact those Democrats forced their Republican colleagues to remain seated at the kid’s table while the grownups made decisions in the other room was a colossal mistake. Thinking they knew anything about health insurance was an even bigger one.

Fast forward seven years, and congressional Republicans are taking out their political frustration on Democrats by doing exactly what they had accused the Democrats of doing a few short years before – passing a junk piece of legislation while excluding their political counterparts from the process.

The Democrat’s decision in 2010 cost them the House. The Republican’s actions this week may very well cost them the same.

But at the end of the day, the real losers have been the American people, whose premiums continue to rise at an astronomical rate as their understanding of what may or may not be covered by health insurance is declining even faster.

Ronald Reagan once famously stated, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The healthcare laws of the last decade are prime, but not the only, examples that prove his statement right. In fact, I challenge any of you to name a program that the federal government manages that runs efficiently or is economically healthy. Just one. I’ll wait right here while you try to think of one.

Social security? Nope. Veteran’s Affairs? Hardly. Education? We’re seemingly falling farther behind the rest of the world every day.

Can’t come up with anything? Me neither. Because our government isn’t run by individuals whose primary motivation is to better or enrich the lives of the people they were elected to serve. It is controlled by two political parties that can’t seem to decide whether they are more motivated by the thought of their side winning or the other side losing, regardless of the impact their decisions have on the people who put them in power to begin with. As a result, we get bad healthcare bills that few of us truly benefit from as we cheer on our preferred political party from the sidelines.

So who is to blame or, more importantly, what can be done to fix things? I have no idea. But I do know that government involvement, as has been the case with health care, is rarely the solution to any of our problems. We could start, perhaps, by having all of the grownups sit at the big table together, just like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill used to do. Although, now that I think about it, our real problem may be the fact that there are no grownups in the room at all.

Tony Clark is publisher of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at