Health care Politics The Opinionsphere

The Right-Wing Canard of ‘Rationing’ and Health Care Reform

I came across this post by John Holbo at Crooked Timber somewhere in my web travels yesterday. (My guess is a Yglesias tweet. Because later, I came across it again on Yglesias’s blog.) Holbo makes a few good points about the use of the term “rationing” by opponents of health care reform:

Guaranteed minimum healthcare doesn’t forbid anyone to seek more on the private market – paying out of pocket, extra insurance. No more so than a guaranteed minimum income would forbid you to get a job to earn more than the minimum. So guaranteed minimal healthcare doesn’t ensure its minimum by positively forbidding anyone to get more. So it isn’t really rationing… There just isn’t going to be any attempt by the government to ration healthcare, as opposed to its own spending of taxpayer money. Because: why would there be?

Yglesias seconds this:

[C]onservative appear to have concocted a special one-off meaning of the term “rationing” to apply to government guarantees of basic health insurance coverage. They observe that insofar as the government guarantees basic health insurance coverage to everyone, the government probably can’t actually deliver an unlimited quantity of health care services without breaking the bank. Therefore, at some point someone will probably not get some service he or she might [want]. This is rationing and it’s evil and the solution, for unclear reasons, is for the government to deliver no guaranteed services whatsoever since . . . well . . it’s not clear how that’s better since either way you could still pay out of pocket.