The left is going bonkers over another false meme–this time, the idea that Mitt Romney praised the Israeli health care system, which is a single-payer system of the sort that gives conservatives the creeps. Romney specifically mentioned the low cost of health care in Israel relative to that of the U.S. Therefore, the left and the media suggest, he is a hypocrite for wanting to repeal Obamacare–with all its supposed cost control measures.
There are two major problems with that argument, however. The first is that the Israeli health care system does not have anything like the kind of malpractice litigation that so plagues health care in America. Not only does the U.S. malpractice bar raise the cost of insurance for doctors, but it also causes doctors to control legal risk by prescribing all kinds of unnecessary treatments and procedures, adding greatly to health care costs.
Tort reform ought to be an essential part of any serious effort at health care reform in the U.S.–which Obamacare is not–but the Democratic Party will never agree to it. As former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean admitted during an unusual moment of candor during the Obamacare debate, Democrats will never support tort reform for fear of losing their money pipeline from trial lawyers. President Obama’s perfunctory promise to study tort reform was nothing more than his usual empty talk.
The other problem with the case the left is trying to make here is that Obamacare does not control costs. Insurance costs have skyrocketed since the act passed in March 2010, and health care costs are continuing to rise. Simply put, Obamacare does not create any real incentives for controlling costs; rather, it makes existing bad incentives worse.
There is another factor in the success of the Israeli health care system, too–one we are no longer allowed to mention, apparently, because it is now “racist” to do so: Israeli culture and demographics lend themselves to a healthier population. Israelis do not typically kill each other; they are rarely sedentary; they prefer poultry to red meat; and they have a disproportionate concentration of high-tech skill and research know-how. That is a recipe for health care success that we ought to emulate, Obamacare or not.
The left seems to believe that Romney’s comments ought to have enraged conservative voters–except that conservatives have already “priced in” Romney’s affinity for state-run health insurance schemes. Whatever the merit (or otherwise) of Israel’s health care system, Romney’s promised to repeal Obamacare, and that’s all that matters to voters.