JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 23, 2011
Of all the anti-health care reform screeds to publish on the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, I am genuinely surprised that the best the Wall Street Journal op-ed page could come up with is this lame tear-jerker from Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. After telling the story of how his daughter received heart surgery, Johnson "argues":
I don't even want to think what might have happened if she had been born at a time and place where government defined the limits for most insurance policies and set precedents on what would be covered. Would the life-saving procedures that saved her have been deemed cost-effective by policy makers deciding where to spend increasingly scarce tax dollars?
Carey's story sounds like a miracle, but America has always been a place where medical miracles happen.
That's the argument. Johnson implies that procedures like this don't happen elsewhere. Does he have any data? No. Does he have any reason to believe that the Affordable Care Act would prevent private insurance from covering procedures like this? No. That doesn't happen in countries like Switzerland that have systems like the Affordable Care Act, and it doesn't happen in the socialist hell of Massachusetts.
Indeed, one of the reasons for the law is that private health insurance often contains lifetime caps on coverage, or arbitrarily throws people who develop expensive conditions off their plans, and therefore keeps people from getting procedures like the one Johnson's daughter received. But asking someone like him to actually take into consideration the actual needs of the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance, as against the completely imaginary threat to his only family, is asking far too much of Johnson's intellect or moral reasoning.