The folly of ignoring health care


With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many Americans simply gave up – the battle to prevent a government takeover of the American health care system was lost.

Many did not give up, including Tea Party Patriots, and brought the law to the Supreme Court. After the Court found the individual mandate and Act constitutional, many more people gave up. The battle had been lost in the highest court in the land, after all.

On major fronts, however, the battle continues. Tea Party Patriots continues to raise awareness so the American people can realize how this law may very well implode if the people continue to fight it. States are pushing back on Medicaid expansion and the health care exchanges. Lawsuits are continuing regarding religious freedom violations in the Act.

Over at The Washington Examiner, however, Philip Klein notes that portions of the conservative movement may be heading down the path of ignoring health care as an issue.

Over the past several years, as the debate over President Obama’s national health care law was raging, the largest annual gathering of conservatives held regular panel discussions on the topic. Not this year. Laura Rigas, a spokeswoman for the American Conservative Union (which runs CPAC), confirmed to me that although “health care and the associated budget-busting costs at the federal and state level will be addressed in a number of panels,” there would be no panel dedicated exclusively to the health care issue.

“Obamacare was obviously huge over the past couple of years, but Obamacare is done,” Rigas explained.

Klein correctly points out that many conservatives have only risen to discuss health care reform when it’s in the public eye – because of proponents of big government:

Done. It’s precisely this attitude — by no means exclusive to CPAC — that has crippled the advancement of conservative health care solutions for decades.

The biggest conservative policy victories, such as the advancement of supply-side economics in the 1980s and welfare reform in the 1990s, came when conservative intellectuals and activists rallied around ideas at times when liberals didn’t have compelling answers to important problems. But conservative activists often disregard health care as a liberal issue — unlike taxes and guns — and only become engaged when liberals attempt to advance big government solutions.

In 1993 and 1994, for instance, when the Clintons were pushing their national health care plan, the conservative movement rose up to successfully defeat it. But then, instead of taking advantage of the intervening 15 years to advance market-based solutions to health care, conservative activists largely ignored the issue.

Why should we stay involved? Klein has the answer:

Now that Obamacare has survived a Supreme Court challenge and the 2012 election, it’s looking as if conservative activists are reverting back to their typical hibernation on the health care issue.

This is a big mistake. At some point in the future, liberals will be looking to build on Obamacare. Whenever conservatives point out problems with the law, liberals will counter that the problem is that the law left too much of the health care system in the hands of private insurers. Incrementally, liberals will seek to move the nation toward a true government-run, single-payer system.

And if conservatives spend the intervening years between now and then tuning out the health care issue, the liberals just may achieve their long-term goal.

Klein is exactly right. Health care costs will soon combine with interest payments to exacerbate the federal government’s existing budget problems, and continue to cause great harm to Americans as costs rise and government control increases. It is up to Tea Party-minded activists, leaders, and politicians to bring health care reform under the larger umbrella of issues addressed every day by those in our movement.

Tea Party Patriots has not given up on the fight to overturn Obamacare, and is currently considering a variety of tactics to undercut this terrible law. Once that is done, it will be time to push for real reform to the health care system that empowers individuals, not Washington.