The Real Health-Care Debate
Our own policy analyst and Show-Me Daily blogger extraordinaire Justin Hauke had a letter to the editor published in today’s Wall Street Journal. The letter responds to a recent op-ed about universal health coverage written by Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, and is packaged with a letter from a Florida resident that also makes some great points about government involvement in the health care industry.
Because online newspaper content doesn’t always remain available indefinitely, I’m reproducing Justin’s letter below for posterity’s sake:
Mr. Reich’s op-ed disappointed me, not only for its blatant disregard of economic logic, but for its presupposition of controversial facts about what universal health-care coverage would entail.
Mr. Reich correctly recognizes that mandates (and their big government connotations) are the most sensitive part of the health-care debate, so he dismisses them as a smoke screen. But, as many presidential candidates have recognized, mandates are the most important part of any potential national health-care plan. Older Americans are among the most expensive to insure, yet Mr. Reich asks readers to believe that they could be covered without a mandated influx of healthy Americans to contribute to the plan without utilizing its benefits.
Mr. Reich argues instead that high-cost participants would be subsidized by the general revenue that would be realized if the Bush tax cuts were to expire. Yet even if we assume that higher taxes would increase revenues without pushing the country into recession, such an increase in tax revenue could not offset the enormous cost of health care for millions of high-risk Americans indefinitely — particularly when fixed premiums encourage health-care abuses.
In order to appease Americans who want to believe that universal health care can be achieved without significant cost or government intrusiveness, Mr. Reich has ignored the real health-care debate and dismissed the bureaucratic mess of government-mandated coverage as the "least important aspect of what (the Democrats) are offering." But it’s not "The Road to Universal Coverage" that Mr. Reich offers us; it’s "The Road to Serfdom."
Justin P. Hauke
The Show-Me Institute