What's Yours Is Negotiable

We are now seeing how ObamaCare will pay for itself. At least, partially. At first. And it means finding places where people are making “unreasonable” profits in providing health care and coercing them to make do with less.

First up, in Massachusetts, ambulance companies. The Boston Globe has discovered that they — gasp! — have different rates for different passengers. They have their customary rates. Then they have their negotiated rates with selected insurance companies. And then they have their Medicare rates, which are dictated to them by the federal government. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just simplify matters and reduce their rates? Say, to just the Medicare and one other fee for insurance companies?

Yeah, it would be nice. For everyone but them. I don’t know the economics of running an ambulance company, but I suspect it isn’t cheap. You have a very highly-trained staff. You have very expensive vehicles stuffed to the gills with very expensive equipment and supplies. You have a very elaborate communications system to keep those vehicles connected to your base. And I suspect you have very high insurance rates to cover said above expensive people and stuff, plus liability insurance for big, heavy, clumsy vehicles that are driven at high speeds and carry very sick people.

Further, I know enough about Medicare to know that the rates set by the federal government are usually pretty crappy. I know some doctors often complain that the Medicare rates don’t even cover expenses, so they end up losing money on those patients. They have to “overcharge” on non-Medicare patients just to balance things out and stay afloat. I have no problem believing a similar situation applies to ambulance fees.

Again, I’m speculating. I have nothing to back this up. I could very well be wrong.

But so what? I don’t have to be an expert on the financing of an ambulance company. I don’t own them.

And neither does the federal government.

Why the hell should the government get into the business of deciding what the ambulance companies charge for their services? It’s one thing for them to “negotiate” those rates when the government is the customer — even then it’s questionable, as it’s usually “negotiations” along the lines of what we saw between Darth Vader and Lando Calrissian (“I’m altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it further.”). But for the government to decide how much is “enough” profit… that’s a frigging scary thought.

And that is the crux of Obama’s economic philosophy. He thinks that it’s the government’s role — nay, duty — to make certain no one makes too much profit. And, naturally, he’s the decider. He decides how much is “too much.”

Look at what Obama said when he was speaking with “Joe the plumber,” when there was no Teleprompter in sight:

“It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure
that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance at success,
too… My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom
up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing
business, you’re gonna be better off […] if you’ve got a whole bunch
of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so
pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread
the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

One wonders just how much of Obama’s book royalties were “spread around” among the little people at his agent’s office, his publisher’s office, and so on. Or how much of Michelle Obama’s salary at the University of Chicago Medical Center — where she got her pay rate tripled after her husband secured an earmark for the hospital, and did such a vital job that they didn’t bother replacing her as “Vice President for Community and External Affairs” — was “spread around.”

That’s the key to doing well in Obama’s America. Find a niche where you can provide a good or service that they find useful, especially politically. But be careful not to cross the line into something they consider important, because then you are setting yourself up as a target — what you do is then too significant to be left up to the vagaries of the free market, too important to be left in the hands of the plebians and the proles. Then you have to submit to federal “guidance,” in the name of the common good.

That’s what’s happening in the field of health care now. Insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, now ambulance companies — they’re all being told that they will be allowed to make “reasonable” profits (as defined by Obama and his minions), but not to make “unreasonable” profits.

It’s something Ronald Reagan would recognize. He once described the Soviet attitude towards arms negotiations as “what’s mine is mine; what’s yours is negotiable.”

Get used to it, folks.

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