Free Market or Nanny State?

Two weeks ago, recognizing the overwhelming and insurmountable issues associated with implementing the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, the House voted to repeal what Democratic Senator Kent Conrad described as "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would be proud of." While Senate action on the bill remains uncertain, this recent turn of events illustrates another example of the question that PPACA has exemplified -- free market or nanny state?

The amusingly-named CLASS Act was supposed to create a voluntary program wherein monthly premiums would be used to finance benefits of at least $50 a day for those needing long-term care. The money would go for services at home or to help with nursing home bills. Last fall, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally admitted that it would not be possible to certify the program's financial solvency, so it would not be implemented.

And as another piece of the fiscal gimmickry associated with ObamaCare is exposed, it's possible to overlook the bigger issue. Why should the federal government need to create this program? If there is a real need for a product or service, and someone can provide it and make the case for it, then it will be successful -- because the market has mandated it.

A quote from Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) to the National Journal has been making the rounds on the blogosphere as well -- "the problem with CLASS is that it's voluntary." This summarizes the threat -- that a future Congress could amend the act, forcing another unsustainable entitlement program on all of us. So long as it remains on the books, CLASS is another example of the menacing hand of government threatening our liberty.

In this case, the solution is clear. But as I pointed out earlier this week, the bureaucratic mindset behind programs like CLASS is unlikely to result in better health outcomes at lower cost.

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