NYT: GOP Has Ideas for Health Care Reform
News that's finally fit to print.
12:51 PM, Feb 9, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
As Republican leaders and the White House haggle over the details of the February 25 health care summit, conservatives have an opportunity to highlight the ideas they think could improve the health care marketplace while lowering costs, increasing the number of insured, and protecting what Americans like best about their health care system. Many of those ideas are included in Jeffrey Anderson's "small bill" proposal for health care reform. Read it!
The Times reporters also note that many conservatives and Republicans, such as Paul Ryan and Tom Coburn, support ending the unfair tax treatment of individuals who purchase their own health insurance on the individual marketplace. The reporters also briefly mention medical malpractice reform. But they leave out the GOP call to make it easier for folks to buy insurance across state lines.
What struck me about the article was that the most effective criticisms of the Republican ideas came from the reporters themselves. Each GOP idea had a caveat appended to it giving the liberal point of view. Nothing wrong with that--it's fair and balanced! But then the reporters quote actual Democratic legislators, whose counter-arguments are limited to this:
At least Doggett's line is funny; I don't even know what Miller is talking about. The bottom line is the elected officials quoted in the piece give no indication of wanting to incorporate conservative principles into the final health bill. Nor, for that matter, does the White House.
Why? Part of it is partisanship. But the other part is that liberals and conservatives simply have different goals for health reform. The liberal dream is for a national plan that insures every American and uses government power to control costs, dictate mandatory benefits, and determine the "comparative effectiveness" of various treatments. Liberals think the health care system is in crisis and needs to be significantly overhauled.
Conservatives do not. (Nor do the vast majority of Americans who have insurance and are pleased with it, even if they also think it costs too much.) Rather, conservatives want to open the health care sector to market dynamics that stand a good chance of lowering costs while making individual insurance easier to buy. Universality is not a top priority; if anything, many conservatives and libertarians care passionately about preserving the right of the individual not to be insured.
With such wildly divergent perspectives, bipartisan compromise is a dream. But that is no reason to miss an opportunity to engage in a civil debate.