Friday, November 27, 2009

Krauthammer: Kill the Bills. Do Health Reform Right

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I posted this under the "hot links", but this is some really good stuff!

WASHINGTON -- The United States has the best health care in the world -- but because of its inefficiencies, also the most expensive. The fundamental problem with the 2,074-page Senate health-care bill (as with its 2,014-page House counterpart) is that it wildly compounds the complexity by adding hundreds of new provisions, regulations, mandates, committees and other arbitrary bureaucratic inventions.


Over two thousand pages of bureaucratic intervention between you and your health care, and that doesn't even include all the purposefully ambiguous portions that give more bureaucrats license to create even more regulations!

Worse, they are packed into a monstrous package without any regard to each other. The only thing linking these changes -- such as the 118 new boards, commissions and programs -- is political expediency. Each must be able to garner just enough votes to pass. There is not even a pretense of a unifying vision or conceptual harmony.

The result is an overregulated, overbureaucratized system of surpassing arbitrariness and inefficiency.


Think the DMV, Post Office and Bureau of Indian Affairs all rolled into one!

The bill is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool.

Then do health care the right way -- one reform at a time, each simple and simplifying, aimed at reducing complexity, arbitrariness and inefficiency.


Well, Charles...what's your plan?

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 which 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 admitted, 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.


That makes sense! Money paid to lawyers doesn't cure a soul. And defensive medicine sucks up resources and wastes money that could be used elsewhere- a double whammy!

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.


He has a third point as well, but I want you to read his essay in full. It is one of the best, most concise I've seen on health care so far.

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