By James Winner
After two years of a presidency riddled with economic malfunction, policy blunders, and low approval ratings, Joe Biden is making a desperate attempt to win back Americans with a new war on “junk fees.” Although the elimination of hotel fees, airplane baggage charges, and extra subscription costs sound nice, it’s not as simple as Democrats want you to believe. The removal of small annoyances can have exponentially large consequences and anyone with four credit hours in Econ 101 could easily explain that adding extra price controls to the free market will sow financial chaos.
Already, many Democrats have embraced Biden’s anti-fees crusade. In Colorado for instance, the state legislature is preparing to advance HB 23-1215, a bill that would effectively ban “facility fees” from patient’s medical bills. The result of which could be the end of outpatient care in many instances.
Although the push for this kind of legislation is popular, with many believing it to be a step against predatory fees, in reality it is an erroneous attempt at pork barrel politics that ignores foreseeable consequences.
Facility fees in hospitals, for instance, cover various expenses that include security, administrative staff, and nurses: essentially any costs outside of physician care. Additionally, fees help cover the costs of unexpected incidents such as the COVID-19 pandemic that required the acquisition of additional medical equipment.
All HB 23 would do, like most legislation promoting government intervention in the free market, is place a financial burden on hospitals to make up their operating costs. Hospitals will likely reduce personnel and pay at a time when hospitals are already struggling with both. If this reduction in income causes some hospitals to fail, and some inevitably will, the left will blame it on the free market and some may use these failures as a basis for moving the US to socialized medicine. Thus the war on junk fees in medical care is a win-win for democrats.
Make no mistake. Whether its socialized medicine or “one-payer” government run healthcare, free market intervention will harm all Americans except for the elites. One only need look to our neighbors in the UK to see what challenges lie ahead if America chooses socialist medical care.
The National Health Service – the global exemplar of government funded medical and health services for all UK residents – is facing some of the worst criticisms the organization has seen in a generation. A report by the Health Foundation issued last month found that only a third (33%) of Brits agree that the NHS provides a good service. The report “Public Perceptions of the NHS: a Winter of Discontent” also revealed that 63% think that the standard of care has deteriorated in the last 12 months.
Furthermore, some 350,000 British patients spent more than 12 hours waiting for hospital beds with thousands having to wait in nearby parked ambulances. According to the British paper, The Independent the number of deaths linked to waiting for hospital beds peaked at 500 a week last October.
But the White House is undaunted. In February, Joe Biden dedicated a significant portion of his State of the Union Address to the elimination of junk fees, advertising his “Junk Fee Prevention Act.” The policy, aimed at supposedly assisting consumers, specifically targets extra expenses in banking, such as overdraft fees, late credit card fees, etc. On social media, Biden arrogantly branded these supposed “hidden fees” as “illegal,” performing an impressive routine in mental gymnastics by ignoring the fact that these are voluntary terms for opening an account, and that overdrafting an account is technically theft (which actually is illegal).
While the Biden Administration would like us to believe that this policy actually serves consumers, all it really does is delegitimize personal agency and limit opportunities for individuals. Since the President is unable to realize his ultimate goal of using government regulation to set prices, he is instead pushing policies that would only create additional business concerns and financial burdens that the consumer would still have to pay for – if not with fees then with reduced services.
If President Biden and the Democratic party truly cared about cutting costs and making life more affordable, they would stop firing up the money printers and get inflation under control in order to return purchasing power to Americans. From concert ticket prices in New York to hotel fees in California, Democrats in Washington and in state capitols across the country are dead set on attempting to introduce the kinds of price controls that do nothing helpful at best and could ultimately destroy access to essential services like healthcare and banking at worst. Whatever Americans think they are saving by supporting the ‘elimination of junk fees,’ it is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what could be saved through restraints on government spending and inflation reduction.
James Winner is a Virginia-based writer and contributor to the Charlottesville based Jefferson Independent.