Obama is asking for a special gift for the holidays...the gift of ideas. The daunting realities of our bureaucrat infested health care system are beginning to hit Obama hard, and he has apparently discovered that rhetoric is no substitute for ideas.
Yes, Obama has a vague Utopian vision for the future of health care in America, but no concrete ideas. The mechanisms by which Obama's dreams will be translated into hard reality have yet to be conceptualized. This is where you and I come into the picture. Obama is asking John Q. Public for help. Here it is, straight from Obama's website: "Health care is a top priority for President-elect Obama, and he wants your help in reforming the system to provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans. That's why this holiday season, we're asking you to give us the gift of your ideas and input."
You say you don't really know anything about health care? Don't worry, Obama doesn't need details—in fact he doesn't even WANT to get into details. His health care czar, Tom Daschle, has made that abundantly clear. "Details kill," he told a meeting of about 500 health care industry executives on December 5 when speaking about the Obama plan. "Once we get started, let's finish and not languish." But how do you reform the health care system in America without getting into details? Daschle has it covered. In his book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," Daschle makes it very clear: "a Federal Health Board should be charged with establishing the system's framework and filling in most of the details. This independent board would be insulated from political pressure." Reading between the lines: just ram a vague bill through Congress, and unelected Obama cronies will fill in the details later. Deliberation and the democratic process are SO yesteryear.
Here's the framework of the Obama health care agenda: Through the magic of the Federal Government, Obama will provide a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies "accountable" and ensures patient choice of physician. Don't worry about government interference; there won't be any. Obama believes that government-run health care is wrong. (He says so on his website.) If you like your current health insurance, nothing will change, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year! If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of shiny new, affordable health insurance options. Merry Christmas!
But that's as far as Obama has been able to get. Planning the health care revolution, with any degree of specificity, is above Obama's pay grade. Have no fear Barack, unlike you, I have lots of ideas and suggestions. You asked for a holiday gift, I'm here to oblige.
- Get serious about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs entice people into the health insurance market, moving away from expensive all-inclusive coverage and toward less expensive, catastrophic coverage. The tax-advantaged medical savings account is used for routine medical expenses. This contains costs by providing an incentive for judicious health care spending. People are in charge of their own money and keep the money they don't spend.
- Make insurance portable. If the government is going to be in the business of subsidizing health care, tax credits should be directed to individuals and not to employers. This would allow people the opportunity to shop around, and would allow them to change jobs without worrying about health insurance coverage.
- Allow people to purchase insurance across state lines. With more options for consumers and more competition between insurance companies, prices would go down and services would improve.
- Get serious about tort reform: Patients should have access to legal remedies in cases of medical malpractice but the legal system needs to discourage endless, frivolous lawsuits.
- Don't move toward socialist or government-run models of health care delivery. You say you think government-run health care is wrong. I agree. Government-run health care leads to lower quality, higher prices and shortages of health care services. For all practical purposes, Medicare and Medicaid amount to government-run health care, so don't expand Medicare and Medicaid.
Those are some of my ideas, Obama. Run with 'em.