The Magazine

Unhealthy Policies

Prepare for lots of bad health care proposals in 2008.

Jun 18, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 38 • By DAVID GRATZER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

America is implementing Hillary Care on the installment plan: We are slowly succumbing to government-financed health care. Clinton proposes little because, in some ways, she's already won the arguments of the 1990s. As Washington these days debates expanding SCHIP, the only question is by how much. Proposed legislation would widen the scope of the FDA more than at any time in the past 45 years. States from California to New York are pushing to expand Medicaid.

The Republican presidential candidates need to take note and take action. It's true that Americans favor Democrats on the issue. But when it comes to general policy ideas, Americans have never been more cynical about wage and price controls, distrustful of government programs, or accepting of market reforms. In principle, they oppose everything in Hillary Clinton's plan.

The GOP contenders should consider some of the health policy ideas floated by the Bush administration: correcting the historic bias of the tax code to favor employers and individuals, and empowering people with health savings accounts. But the candidates also need to learn from the administration's failure: Six years after moving into the White House, President George W. Bush has not moved the debate, in part because he never invested much political capital.

The party of welfare reform can now become the party of Medicaid reform. The GOP should champion breaking the wage and price controls of Medicare, fostering competition within health care through deregulation, and challenging rising costs by further empowering people with more market-friendly options like health savings accounts.

Senators Clinton and Obama want to talk platitudes about obesity. The Republican candidates need to offer Americans a better prescription.

David Gratzer, a physician, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care.