March 23, 2007

CATCHING UP TO THE REBEL-IN-CHIEF:

GOP Alternatives to HillaryCare (Kimberley Strassel, 3/23/07, Real Clear Politics)

Conservative health-care guru John Goodman remembers going to Washington in the early 1990s to get Republicans interested in individual health savings accounts, and "only about five guys would even meet with me," he recalls. Now, HSAs "are a religion" among the right, he notes, and Republicans used their last years in the majority to significantly expand access to these accounts. In the past 15 years, the GOP has also planted the roots of Medicare reform, looked at interstate trade in health insurance, and got behind competitive Medicare reforms in their states.

The recent White House and Senate proposals are meant to package these ideas into a more unified, free-market whole. Mr. Coburn, like the White House, would remove the subsidy corporations get for health care, and instead give the money to individuals--putting them in charge of their health expenditures. It would expand HSAs, and allow consumers to buy insurance from any state, thereby avoiding costly regulations. It would modernize Medicare, allowing workers to invest their payroll taxes into a savings account and control their care in their retirement years. It would free up the states to inject Medicaid with new flexibility and competition.

There's plenty of big ideas in these new proposals over which conservatives can argue. Do they get behind tax rebates (à la Coburn) or tax deductibility (à la President Bush)? Do you leave medical liability to the states, or intervene with federal legislation to set up state "health courts"? Or do they write all this off as too hard a political sell, and run for the Schwarzenegger "universal coverage" cover?

The important thing is that debate equals education, which equals understanding, which equals precisely what the GOP needs right now. The Heritage Foundation's Mike Franc says Republicans are still too preoccupied with health-care small-ball--which procedures should be covered by Medicare, how much should generics cost--to get their heads around the broader subject. "This is still outside their intellectual comfort zone, and Republicans never do well in that situation," he says. "But to win this debate--the defining issue of the next 40 or 50 years--they're going to have to address it forcefully, head-on, and with every bit of their intellectual firepower."

You'd have thought the right would have figured this out by now, given its success at reframing other policy issues.


Except that the Right is too busy denouncing W's liberalism to figure out his conservatism. We aren't the Stupid Party for nothin'.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2007 10:51 AM
Comments

oj, shouldn't someone be saying "unloop" about here?

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2007 12:38 PM
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