Health Care, GOP Proposals, and Morality

The GOP famously promised to come up with its own health care reform plan — about 140 days ago, the last time I looked (someone is actually keeping count).  Here’s why

Short version:  The bedrock Republican principle on health care is that costs are rising because HC “consumers” (i.e., sick people) don’t pay enough of the costs of their own treatments, and, therefore, they make wasteful decisions about their medical care.  Applying this market discipline principle to HC can only mean exposing Americans to MORE HC-related financial risk.  Since no one wants this, the GOP cannot put their HC “plan” on paper.

Ask John McCain.  His HC plan in the 2008 presidential campaign was just a bunch of vague bullet points.  But it adhered very obviously to this basic principle.  it would have accelerated the shift away from employer-sponsored HC towards a world in which everybody is dumped into the individual HC market, and let those who can afford it open individual Health Savings Accounts.  McCain lost, you may recall, and likely would have lost bigger had the media understood that his HC plan would have done this.

It was the same problem Republicans had when they wanted to privatize Social Security in 2005.  Bush refused to come up with a bill, and the GOP-controlled Congress refused to do it for him.   Why?  They all knew that if the public saw in black and white what they wanted to do, they could do the arithmetic and see that the real plan was to phase out the program into a giant 401(k) that would expose retirees to all the financial risk of retiring.  

See the pattern?  My broader point is about, drumroll, politics and morality;  Do we want a society in which growing financial risks are more equally shared among our citizens, or concentrated onto individuals and families? This is the choice we face in the 21st century, not a choice between Big Government and Freedom.  does the GOP understand this, or is it intellectually exhausted?


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