New proposal would hurt more than help

Freedom New Mexico

Out on the campaign trail, most of the presidential candidates have been going on at length about how important it is that affordable health insurance be made available to every American.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward making that goal unobtainable.

At least the affordable part.

By a 268-148 margin, the House has passed what is called the “Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act,” named in honor of the late Minnesota senator.

It would require insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental and physical illnesses when policies cover both.

Proponents claim it would help to end the stigma of mental illness and “create greater access for people needing mental health and addiction treatment,” as The Associated Press put it.

What it would do in real life, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, would be to drive up the cost of health insurance — or create an incentive for insurance companies not to cover mental health services at all.

As a practical matter, imposing a mandate on insurance companies simply can’t help but drive up the cost of the insurance. But members of Congress suffer under the delusion that they know what people really need better than the people do themselves.

George McGovern, Democratic presidential candidate in 1972 and once the symbol of unregenerate leftism — who has worked in the private sector since leaving politics and shown a commendable capacity to learn from his experience on the other side — addressed this problem in the Wall St. Journal, writing of state-level mandates that create mandates for insurance policies:

“Health-care paternalism creates another problem that’s rarely mentioned: Many people can’t afford the gold-plated health plans that are the only options available.”

The only way to make health insurance available to everybody is to have choices — Kia-level plans as well as Mercedes Benzes and Rolls Royces. With bills like this, Congress is working to make sure that doesn’t happen.