The nation is experiencing a rare moment of political vacuum. Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts has killed the healthcare monstrosity that was barreling toward passage. Pelosi, Reid, and Obama are in a state of shock and momentary uncertainty. But it won’t last long.
Republicans and their free-market allies should step into the breach with a simple, easy-to-understand healthcare plan that not only embarrasses the Democrats but actually offers a way to increase Americans’ freedom of choice.
But where is the plan?
The one proposed by Tom Coburn and other Republicans in Congress is the cowering offspring of the era just past.
Better to look for something from Heritage and Cato. But mostly I see principles and approaches, not plans. “Health insurance should be personal and portable … we also need to rethink medical licensing laws to encourage greater competition among providers,” says Cato.
And Heritage: “The cornerstone of any serious health care reform proposal must address the tax treatment of health insurance. . . . Congress should embrace a federal-state partnership that would preserve diversity …”
Rethink, address, embrace. But what we need is a series of clear, discrete proposals that can be adopted, or at least debated, one by one.
The best I have seen is the list offered by Whole Foods’ John Mackey in The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 11,2009). He recommends removing legal obstacles to health savings accounts, equalizing tax treatment of individual and employer-supplied health insurance, letting insurance companies compete across state lines, and repealing government mandates on insurance coverage. He has some additional ideas that are less transparent and more debatable, such as tort reform.
But this is enough to get started with. Try a few out. Any of them would be an improvement. Judging by the election and the Tea Party movement, Americans are ready to push for more freedom – but the message has to be clear and the pro- gram easy to grasp. Let’s go!