Heritage Foundation president and former Senator Jim DeMint suggested to a town hall audience in Wilmington, Delaware Thursday that health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid are “un-American” and built on the principles of “socialism and collectivism.”
“I cannot think of anything that’s more un-American than national government-run health care,” DeMint said. “Those who believe in those principles of socialism and collectivism we’ve seen over the centuries, they see as their holy grail taking control of the health care system.”
Though DeMint was referring specifically to the Affordable Care Act, a law the Heritage Foundation is urging Congress to defund in next month’s continuing resolution, his comments could also apply to existing programs that have more direct government involvement than the ACA.
While the federal government does establish the rules and guidelines private insurers must follow in offering coverage for the uninsured though reform and directly finances insurance expansion for lower-income Americans who are eligible for Medicaid — often by contracting with private insurers — numerous other popular government programs like Medicare, the Veterans Health Administration and even the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) (which DeMint himself relied on for health care coverage as a member of the Senate) are operated by the government.
Public health comprises more than 40 percent of the nation’s health care spending and that percentage will remain stable as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. By 2014,“private health insurance is anticipated to account for roughly 31 percent of national health spending, or about the same share as was expected without enactment of the Affordable Care Act,” actuaries at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid estimate.
DeMint warned his town hall audience that the system threatens Americans’ freedoms. “[Health care is] such a personal service, it’s such a big part of the economy,” he said. “If [Democrats] can control that, they can control most areas of our lives.”