No, this isn’t exactly what I promised yesterday about what kinds of health reform I would support. This is a bare bones outline I did for AIP.
So yes, we must reform the health care system. But let’s imagine for a moment that President Obama and the Democrats didn’t hate the free market so much and were willing to look at alternatives to what they are proposing that would mean less, not more government control, and allow the free market to do the heavy lifting in helping to bring down health care costs.
It’s not like there aren’t free market ideas out there to reform health care - despite what our president and the Democrats want you to believe. They are attempting to ram this health care reform package through the Congress while saying that their opponents have no new ideas to solve the same problems.
But covering the uninsured by making insurance affordable for all, covering those with pre-existing conditions, bringing down the cost of health care, and assuring that the patient, in consultation with his doctor, has the most control over his own treatment are goals that can be achieved more cheaply, and by using a mostly free market approach to reform.
Unfortunately, a completely market oriented solution is not politically viable or realistic at this time. More than six dollars in every ten we spend on health care in America is spent by government. Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans benefits, Indian health care, active duty military care, and the children’s insurance program S-CHIP are just a few of the programs that have skewed the market in health insurance and health care so that a purely free market solution is not in the cards. And doing away with these government programs - even if it were possible - would not be the answer.
But believe me, we can do better than what the president and the Democrats are proposing.
I then give a rudimentary primer on some of the alternatives.
As I said, it’s not very detailed and there are other reforms I would support. Unfortunately, I lost my internet this morning and it just came on about an hour ago so those who might be interested in what real health care reform might look like - from my humble point of view anyway - are going to have to wait at least another day.
Great discussion with my good friends Ed Morrissey and Rich Baehr last night on my radio show about what’s happening with the politics of health care. Rich, who has been a medical insurance consultant for more than a quarter century, sees a senior citizen backlash coming against the Dems. While Obama and the Democrats concentrate on convincing the middle class about the necessity of health care reform, the seniors are packing town hall meetings and expressing their outrage at the more than $350 billion in Medicare cuts. This will mean longer waits for care, doctors dropping medicare patients altogether, and generally lower levels of service.
Old people, Rich reminded us, vote - big time.
You can access a podcast of the show here.
I think very soon, the Democrats are going to have to decide whether to batten down the hatches and pass their idea of a health care bill, even in the teeth of some serious opposition. Or whether they should scrap what they have and start over with a whole new, much more modest approach. I don’t think they can get to “Plan B” from where they are now. They would have to construct an entirely new framework from which to begin.
It is not likely to happen unless support for their kind of reform hits the low 20’s in the polls. Right now, it’s in the mid-30’s to low 40’s which is bad but not political Armageddon. But support is not rising, it is falling. And the longer they dawdle in Congress, the more the opposition can muster its forces to defeat them.
Right now, I’d put passage of some kind of reform at 60-40 in favor. The only reason it’s that high is that Obama has yet to bring the full force and effect of his office into the debate. A president has enormous power and Obama has several hole cards yet to play. Town halls and speeches won’t get it done. He will have to do what LBJ used to call “the laying on of the hands.” For example, Congress may hold the purse strings but the president has enormous latitude about when those monies can be released. A road project in a member’s district may be held up (or expedited) depending on how that Congressman intends to vote. No matter how bad a member might think the public option to be, that kind of persuasion can work miracles.
If they ditch the public option, that 60-40 number goes up considerably. In the end, that’s what Obama might have to do to get something he can sign.