The Blog

Profit and Fraud

"Some troubling questions about our government's ability to manage a medical bureaucracy."

11:00 PM, Nov 3, 2009 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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The Republican bill would "allow" where the Democratic bills would "require." The former would increase personal freedom; the latter would restrict it.

For the small minority of Americans who are uninsured because they have prohibitively expensive preexisting conditions--last estimated in a federal government survey as well under one percent of the population--the Republican plan would create Universal Access Programs to expand and reform state-run high-risk pools. Such programs would guarantee that all Americans, regardless of preexisting conditions or past illnesses, would have access to affordable care, without needlessly raising health-care premiums across the board.

Furthermore, the Republican bill would start right away. The Democratic bills wouldn't kick in until after the next presidential election--although their "10-year" costs include the three years during which they would lie dormant. (So the Democrats are really offering seven years for the price of ten.)

The massive Democratic bills would entrust an entity that can't keep an eye on $60 billion with much greater control over our entire health-care system.

The Republican small bill, on the other hand, wouldn't dramatically increase government spending or control; wouldn't raise taxes, deficits, or insurance premiums; and wouldn't siphon money out of Medicare. Instead, it would keep our privately run health-care system in place, provide sensible and targeted reforms, and adhere to a guiding principle of medicine: first, do no harm.

If anyone doubts whether the Republican tally of $60 billion in new spending is enough to address our nation's pressing health-care concerns, remember this: That's seven times more than the combined annual profits of America's ten largest insurance companies. You can do a lot with $60 billion a year--if you don't lose it.

Mr. Anderson, director of the Benjamin Rush Society, was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.