Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Moderate Republican's Thoughts on Health Care Reform

by Dennis Sanders

As the health care debate seems to heat up, I've had a few thoughts about the whole drama from my vantage point as someone on the center-right. This is less of magnum opus than some random thoughts on the issue. I should stress these are the thoughts of one person and don't reflect all Republicans or all moderate Republicans (all twelve of us).

First, I still don't understand why many Democrats and liberals are so hung up on a public option. I know that the rhetoric is that it is needed to keep the private insurers honest, but to me it seems needless. I mean if we wanted to make sure the insurance companies are playing fair, we would have laws that would ban certain practices like pre-existing conditions or recission and the like. In short we could use regulation. I know that has become an anathema among your typical Republican, but then, I have never been the typical Republican. There is a need for some regulation here and it would make sense to have some regulatory scheme that would work far better than having to create some new program from scratch.

Speaking of which, do we even know what form this public option will take shape? Will it use a current program like Medicare or create something new?

Finally, this might make me seem a little odd, but I tend to worry that this is a backdoor way to get what a lot of Democrats want: a single payer health care plan. The fear is that the government can set prices far lower than the private insurers and that they will get out of the insurance racket leaving the government plan as the only one. Maybe that's just a conspiracy theory. But I tend to agree
with Lindsey Graham on this one:

My belief is that no private-sector entity can survive over a long period of time competing against the government. The public option will be written by politicians. It will be generous. Nobody in my business worries about the bottom line. Eventually, the public option will dominate the marketplace because the political forces in the public sector are different than the economic forces in the private sector. Eventually, the private sector will give way.

I know that there are some that think that the government can handle health care for the nation, but I have my doubts. No, I'm not worried about "death panels." But I do wonder if we will lose our technological edge as Meghan McArdle and ED Kain believe. I also worry about the cost. I know that many are concerned about access to health care. Believe me, I understand. I've gone through periods without health care and have had to make choices based on what I could afford. That said, we also have to create a system that we can pay for in the long run and the plan being touted which includes the public option isn't financially viable. We can't only have the rich pay for it for it to work. It was Thomas Dewey, the Republican Governor of New York for two-time Presidential Candidate who said:

"It is our solemn responsibility to show that government can have both a head and a heart; that it can be both progressive and solvent; and that it can serve the people without becoming their master."

I want health care reform, but it has to be done in a way that is both progressive and solvent and the Democratic plan is a little short on the solvent part.

Secondly, I think the official plan by the GOP is found incredibly wanting. I agree with
Travis Johnson in that the plan put forth by some Republicans is basically the same tired old stuff. Tax credits, free market, blah, blah,blah. Come on guys, this is the best you could do? Listen, this is a real issue. When people lose their jobs, they lose their health care. There are people that have to stay in jobs they don't like because they need the health care. You don't have to support single-payer to know that the American health care system isn't working. Get a clue, guys.

So, we have the Democrats stuck on public option and the GOP stuck on the free market and neither side wants to actually, you know work out a viable plan.

Which leads me to Wyden-Bennett, the
"Healthy Americans Act." It seems to blend both liberal and conservative ideas and has bipartisan backing. And yet, it hardly gets any press. Why is that? Why is it that we can talk about how we need to have bipartisanship and when someone comes up with a compromise plan, we don't even give it the time of day?

Oh and about those protests at the town hall meetings. I don't care much for them, they seem to be rather mean. However, I also think they have a right to protest. Protesting is as American as apple pie and it wasn't that long ago, that the people who are ragging on the protestors were out there protesting themselves. Maybe dissent isn't so patriotic when you are on the winning side.

As I said earlier,
health care is important to me. So, please, can we get all the chips off our shoulders and try to craft a plan?

Just a thought.

Dennis Sanders is a pastor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has worked on centrist Republican issues for years, including stints as President of the Minnesota chapter of Log Cabin Republicans (a gay/lesbian advocacy group) and Republicans for Environmental Protection. Dennis blogs at NeoMugwump and happily lives with his partner Daniel and serves two cats, Morris and Felix.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Purely private health insurance is a better option than the government runs it all approach of the Dem-Libs and the half-screwed up approach from the good pastor. Purely private would be cheaper and more honest in the same way that competition among auto carriers and life insurance carriers have driven down premiums (except in those Dem-Lib states like Jersey.

Has anyone seen the corruption in Medicare?

Remember Milton Friedman:

• There are four ways in which you can spend money.

• You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

• Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.

• Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!

• Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.