A Simple Rx for Healthcare

It has been an interesting 4 or 5 weeks, watching the administration’s plans for healthcare reform (or is it health insurance reform?) implode. What makes this most interesting is the fact that everything is stacked in favor of the Obama administration. Large majorities in Congress, and a filibuster proof 60 votes in the Senate. And they still can’t deliver. Just like the Democratic congress could have halted funding for Iraq, but chose not to. I would think that the objective observer would agree that unhappiness with Bush and Republicans last fall had little to do with lack of healthcare reform. After all, the Bush administration worked with Congress to achieve an incremental improvement in the form of prescription coverage for seniors.

As a compassionate conservative, I have been somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the most unfortunate among us. Here’s how I would approach reform:

  1. Start with tort reform. There is no easier or quicker way to reduce the total cost of healthcare than by reducing or eliminating the ridiculous awards being handed out by juries like candy. And there is no easier way to indicate seriousness and a willingness to “spread the pain”. Plus, this will help get Americans off their notion that someone always has to pay if an outcome is poor.
  2. Require all Americans to have health insurance. As with auto insurance, if someone chooses not to have insurance, require that they pay into an “uninsured citizen” fund. Those paying into this fund would receive their basic healthcare services via Medicaid. Those truly unable to afford insurance should receive some type of tax credit or voucher from Uncle Sam.
  3. Eliminate pre-existing conditions (since everyone will be required to have insurance).

That’s it. The focus is on improving coverage, and not on “bending the curve” (aka cost savings). Anyone that has paid any attention at all to the cost of health insurance knows that many of the same concerns being expressed today were made 10, 15, even 20 years ago. Yes, healthcare costs go up more than the average. But something has to go up more than the average, right? This simply reflects supply and demand. And with baby boomers continuing to get older…well you can see where this is going. The Obama administration could consider addressing the cost increase by encouraging (through grants, say) more medical students to specialize in, say, family practice or in geriatrics.

I am amused every time I hear the administration trashing the insurance companies. The administration believes that a public option is needed “to keep the insurance companies honest”. Right. The fact that there are 1300 insurance companies does nothing for competition?

Liberals don’t want universal healthcare because they care so much for people. They want universal healthcare because they care so much for people’s votes. Give people healthcare, get their votes. How could I make such a grotesque statement? Simple. If liberals really were interested in keeping insurance companies honest, and spurring competition, and reducing costs, then why are they so fiercely against giving parents vouchers and a choice when it comes to education of their children? Apparently, there is no compunction in setting up a public option that has no bottom line profitability requirements to compete against the private insurers. But suggest that the private sector be allowed to compete against school systems that are top-heavy with administrators and that’s a no-go. It’s all about the votes.

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