Central Planning a la ObamaCare

By Reiland, Ralph R | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

Central Planning a la ObamaCare


Reiland, Ralph R, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Central planning is tricky. Castro decided that individualism was an obstacle to economic development -- and nearly half of Cuba's 7,000 doctors fled to the United States.

The Maoists in China targeted the nation's most productive farmers as insufficiently self-sacrificing, and tens of millions of people ended up starving to death. You don't get a great harvest by killing the best farmers.

What failed in both cases was a system built on the fatal combination of arrogance, ineptitude, sanctimony and a deep-seated naivete about human nature, incentives and unintended consequences.

Here at home -- again, directly dealing with matters of life and death for millions of people -- the central planners of ObamaCare have established an Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of 15 unelected and unaccountable government officials who will call the financial shots in the U.S. health care system -- no oversight or consent required by Congress, doctors, patients or the public.

The White House was supposed to name the central planners to the board and have the operation up and running by mid-September, but the Obama administration appears to be holding off on the names of the appointed bureaucrats until after the November election.

ObamaCare architect Peter Orszag, former budget director for President Obama and currently a vice chairman of bailed-out Citigroup, appears to be a likely appointee.

Orszag has stated that up to a third of the spending in the American health care system is "waste." It's not clear if he was referring to the profit levels of insurance companies or the cost of health care for people who, under the new top-down, cheaper, one- size-fits-all system, will be tagged as too old to be permitted to have a heart valve repair or new knee.

Another top candidate for the panel is bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, a senior counselor on health care policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget and brother of Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. …

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