Friday, November 27, 2009

Scrap the health care bill and start over

It's probably a futile hope, but Charles Krauthammer argues that the two health care proposals in the House and Senate are so gargantuan, inefficient, and ill-considered that Congress should just scrap them and start over building one reform at a time instead of trying to create a huge monstrous comprehensive bill that is just filled with giveaways to gain the support of special interests and reluctant Democrats.
Then do health care the right way -- one reform at a time, each simple and simplifying, aimed at reducing complexity, arbitrariness and inefficiency.

First, tort reform. This is money -- the low-end estimate is about half a trillion per decade -- wasted in two ways. Part is simply hemorrhaged into the legal system to benefit a few jackpot lawsuit winners and an army of extravagantly rich malpractice lawyers such as John Edwards.

The rest is wasted within the medical system in the millions of unnecessary tests, procedures and referrals undertaken solely to fend off lawsuits -- resources wasted on patients who don't need them and that could be redirected to the uninsured who really do.

In the 4,000-plus pages of the two bills, there is no tort reform. Indeed, the House bill actually penalizes states that dare "limit attorneys' fees or impose caps on damages." Why? Because, as Howard Dean has openly acknowledged, Democrats don't want "to take on the trial lawyers." What he didn't say -- he didn't need to -- is that they give millions to the Democrats for precisely this kind of protection.

Second, even more simple and simplifying, abolish the prohibition against buying health insurance across state lines.

Some states have very few health insurers. Rates are high. So why not allow interstate competition? After all, you can buy oranges across state lines. If you couldn't, oranges would be extremely expensive in Wisconsin, especially in winter.

And the answer to the resulting high Wisconsin orange prices wouldn't be the establishment of a public option -- a federally run orange-growing company in Wisconsin -- to introduce "competition." It would be to allow Wisconsin residents to buy Florida oranges.

But neither bill lifts the prohibition on interstate competition for health insurance. Because this would obviate the need -- the excuse -- for the public option, which the left wing of the Democratic Party sees (correctly) as the royal road to fully socialized medicine.

Third, tax employer-provided health insurance. This is an accrued inefficiency of 65 years, an accident of World War II wage controls. It creates a $250 billion annual loss of federal revenue -- the largest tax break for individuals in the entire federal budget.

This reform is the most difficult to enact, for two reasons. The unions oppose it. And Barack Obama savaged the idea when John McCain proposed it during last year's campaign.

Insuring the uninsured is a moral imperative. The problem is that the Democrats have chosen the worst possible method -- a $1 trillion new entitlement of stupefying arbitrariness and inefficiency.

The better choice is targeted measures that attack the inefficiencies of the current system one by one -- tort reform, interstate purchasing and taxing employee benefits. It would take 20 pages to write such a bill, not 2,000 -- and provide the funds to cover the uninsured without wrecking both U.S. health care and the U.S. Treasury.
It won't ever happen, but these are reforms that conservatives would happily support and we could achieve some of that blessed bipartisanship that President Obama pretends he so desires. Just think if he'd chosen these sorts of ideas and moved outward from the center instead of starting on the left side and trying to put in enough sweetners to attract the Mary Landrieus of the Senate.


equitus said...

It would be nice if the GOP understood that including these proposals in their 2010 platform would guarantee they regain majorities in both Houses.

Now, back to bed to dream...

mark said...

Once again, Krauthammer starts off with an opinion presented as fact, "The US has the best health care in the world". Based on what? Might he include a source? According to the World Health Organization, it is ranked 38th or so. While many may reasonably argue with their numbers, what unbiased study ranks the US at #1? And if a study exists, why should it supercede the WHO rankings?
Last week he insinuated we should let 9/11 fade away. His usual MOD is to start a column with a ridiculous statement (such as 'Liberals think diplomacy is offering therapy and hugs') and then basing his column as if his original absurd statement is true.
Krauthammer has a problem with the truth, which helps explain why he was such a toady for the previous administration. He's certainly a smart man. Just not an honest one.

Terrye said...


Actually, the GOP has included those proposals in in various forms in several seperate bills.

Bachbone said...

Krauthammer is no doubt well aware that the WHO's rankings are based on more than health-related factors (see CATO Report), such as a health system that intrudes into all patients' right to use tobacco, have any diet and sexual activity one chooses, and that the United States is given a lower rank because it has not yet launched governmental control over a citizen's life in those areas.

Perhaps he even presumed a reader might have the intellectual honesty to Google "WHO criticisms" before launching a diatribe of his article.

Pat Patterson said...

Actually the WHO gets its numbers from reports by the Commonwealth Fund which is somewhat suspect because it counts traffic accidents and violence as part of its mortality rates. and the more than slight problem in that the Fund is one of the major sources demanding universal health care in the US and as such has not proven very reliable. When the countries of the world can agree on what constitutes good health rather than picking and choosing their success rates based on certain causes of death then what Krauthammer writes can be judged on whether or not he is telling the truth.

And only the truly blind would claim that Krauthammer would insinute that 9/11 should fade but what he did argue that AG Holder as served to remind people that this was not a run of the mill crime but a full on attack on American soil and citizens carried out by a clandestine military organization that not only declared war on the US but launched its proxies from foreign soil while receiving the protection of the state.

tfhr said...


Instead of giving an open minded measure of consideration for three worthwhile solutions that would improve health care in this country, you attack Charles Krauthammer. Why is that?

What is wrong with tort reform?

What is wrong with allowing Americans to choose a policy that would meet their specific needs without having to buy into a more expensive policy?

You love taxes, mark. Krauthammer is suggesting that employer health insurance should be taxed as a form of income. Why are you more interested in satisfying union bosses than helping people that don't have health insurance?

For that matter, why would you want to appease a lobby for lawyers instead of saving money that could be used to help the truly needy?

Instead of dealing with Krauthammer's proposals based on their merits you launch a clumsy attack based on some twisted inference you arrived at when Krauthammer objected to treating Khalid Sheik Mohammed to a show trial in NYC. "September 11, 2001 had to speak for itself. A decade later, the deed will be given voice. KSM has gratuitously been presented with the greatest propaganda platform imaginable -- a civilian trial in the media capital of the world -- from which to proclaim the glory of jihad and the criminality of infidel America." Those are Krauthammer's actual words. Where does he say in his column that he WANTS the memory of 9-11 to fade? mark, you have enough trouble with the words that come drooling out of your pie hole to take up an effort, feeble as it will inevitably be, to put words in the mouth of anyone else, let alone, Charles Krauthammer. Unsatisfied with your deliberate effort to twist his words you then call him "dishonest".

mark, you need to be a little more civil if you intend to engage in a debate. Because you prefer to take your instruction from the WHO about all things medical, that does not mean those of us that don't share your confidence in the UN are liars.

I dunno, maybe because Krauthammer is a doctor and you're not, you may find it necessary to rely on the UN to tell you what to think. I just know that since people come here to receive medical treatment because places like Canada and the United Kingdom provide inadequate care, the numbers game from your WHO rankings doesn't tell a complete story.

Your claim that Krauthammer is dishonest is really disturbing because I can see that he wants to help people that truly cannot afford medical care. I have not seen your recommendations that would help these people but I think you endorse "plans" that would benefit union bosses, lawyers, and insurance salesmen at AARP. Why do we need to help those three groups instead taking measures to help the uninsured through means outlined by Krauthammer?

mark said...

For all the responses, not one source giving credence to Krauthammer's opening that we are number one in health care. Some of you are such sticklers for evidence.
I made no "diatribe" against the column, allowed that the WHO stats are debatable, and I have agreed before that some sort of tort reform is needed (and dems are in the tank for trial lawyers, so it's not likely to happen).
Must have been a stressful Thanksgiving for some of you.

tfhr said...


Still not answering up for your bizarre claim that Krauthammer said "we should let 9/11 fade away"? Not surprising since you have nothing to stand on to support that BS.

After a stunningly stupid insinuation like that, why should we consider anything you say with any degree of seriousness? You shamelessly smear a medical doctor with some half baked notion of your own design and you want other people to waste their time on your WHO crap?

Let's see now...the UN is still claiming that man made "global warming" is going to destroy the world. The claim is based on questionable studies and corrupted data but we should trust politically driven WHO data on medical care? It is beyond the capabilities of the UN to separate facts from politics. The UN cannot even agree on a definition for terrorism.

Krauthammer has provided three avenues to pursue medical care for Americans at a lower cost. To your credit, mark, you have signaled that you support tort reform. Yours is a lonely voice on the left. I hope you have contacted your representatives and told them how you feel on that topic because I have not seen any such a provision in the Senate or House bills. Why is that?

Now how about dropping barriers erected by the government that limits competition to select insurance companies within particular states? Government restrictions have brought us to the place we're at today. Why not allow the free market to help?

mark said...

Brilliant. You have the proof that Krauthammer wasn't being dishonest, but you won't share it with me because I mocked this statement from an earlier column.

Just as the memory fades, 9/11 has been granted a second life

Those are his words. You can honestly tell me that he isn't "insinuating" (not "said" as you claimed I wrote.) that Obama is reviving the memories of 9/11? A very bizarre thing to write, especially from someone who has criticized Obama for not learning the lessons of 9/11.
There are good arguments for not having the trials in New York, and Krauthammer makes good arguments for changing (I wouldn't say scrapping) the health care bill. He needn't rely on lies and absurd, cowardly statements.

But unlike Krauthammer, you don't have anything intelligent to say, tfhr. You just hide behind one lie and compound it with others while regurgitating what you hear on the radio.

tfhr said...


It's your inference or insinuation that is dishonest. Now you expect me to carry on a defense of Krauthammer when none is required. I didn't write that you claimed he "said", I wrote that you attempted to smear Charles Krauthammer's opinion on three possible alternatives for lowering health care expenses by creating and attaching a malevolent insinuation to his good name. To prove otherwise, I asked you to show where he actually "said" such a thing and to nobody's surprise, you cannot.

Why not stick to the debate topic at hand and give the deflections and demonizations a rest?

What's wrong with unrestricted access to insurance plans so that people in states that are not currently served well can have a plan that meets their needs and budgets? You've gone on to say that Krauthammer "makes good arguments for changing (I wouldn't say scrapping) the health care bill" but there is no explanation as to why the authors of the current bills resist each of the three points. Instead you call Krauthammer "cowardly" and a liar. Explain that. How is Charles Krauthammer a coward and a liar? Is it because he dares to hold a different opinion than mark's? Wow, that's some standard!

mark, it is beginning to sound like you are having difficulty defending the ponderous, budget breaking tomes to bureaucracy spawned in the House and the Senate. Don't let your frustration devolve into a continual spate of personal attacks on those that retain the objectivity to see these bills for what they are and still wish to offer ideas that can actually help Americans receive health care for less cost. To fall into that foul and fetid gutter is unbecoming, even for you, mark.

Pat Patterson said...

The entire quote and in fact the entire article was on the second chance at a propaganda victory that is now imminent by bringing KSM to NYC. "Just as the memory fades, 9/11 has been granted a second life — and KSM, a second act: 9/11, The Director’s Cut, narration by KSM." Quoting out of context and not showing the elides could be considered dishonest.