How Republicans Can Win On Health Reform

“Republicans suck.” I had heard that Jon Caldara began his July talk to the Denver Metro Young Republicans (DMYR) with that line, so I figured I’d repeat it when I addressed the group on August 25 about health policy.

I really like the DMYRs. It is a vibrant and passionate group on the whole truly committed to liberty. If the Republican Party of Colorado is to have a future, it needs to start with people like this.

I explained that Republicans have advocated bad policies in areas of insurance controls and health welfare.

It was Republican Mitt Romney, for example, who passed insurance mandates in Massachusetts, which the Democrats have now worked into their “reform” bill. I drew on the article by Dr. Paul Hsieh for The Objective Standard on the matter.

Michael Cannon has also written about the failures of the Romney model.

I explained that mandated insurance is inherently tied to tighter insurance controls and expanded subsidies. Moreover, Romney’s plan didn’t address the underlying problems, particularly the high costs of employer-paid insurance (driven by tax distortions) and capricious insurance controls.

The result of this GOP scheme? Skyrocketing tax costs and premiums, a damaged insurance industry, more political meddling, and doctor shortages.

Next I criticized Bob Beauprez’s endorsement of mandated insurance and Mike Coffman’s endorsement of insurance controls.

With respect to health welfare, I discussed Bush’s costly Medicare prescription drug program, Jim DeMint’s plan to expand welfare, and Michael Steele’s endorsment of health welfare as a “right.”

Then I turned to the positive portion of my talk. How can Republicans win on health reform?

First and foremost, Republicans must make liberty in medicine a moral issue. People have the right to control their own lives and resources, free from political interference. Republicans must answer the Democrats’ challenge to address the moral argument. Republicans who try to make the debate all about budgets and cost are destined to lose.

Republicans must articulate the harms of decades of political controls in medicine. They must explain how tax distortions created the expensive, non-portable, employer-paid system. They must talk about how insurance controls drive up premiums and undermine a competitive, consumer-responsive insurance industry. And they must talk about all the ways that forced wealth transfers, via taxation and politically-controlled insurance premiums, drive up costs and reduce responsibility.

Finally, Republicans must advocate true free-market reforms. Expanded Health Savings Accounts would help offset the tax distortions driving employer-paid insurance. Rolling back insurance controls will restore competitiveness and bring down insurance rates. Tort reform will weed out frivolous law suits. And welfare reform will rein in expansions of various programs, control costs, and ultimately begin to move back in the direction of voluntary charity.

Many Republicans are trying to “me too” the Democrats on health reform by advocating more insurance controls and more health welfare. But is it not now abundantly obvious that Republicans cannot win on a Democrat-lite platform?

If Republicans wish to win on health policy and other issues — and if they want to deserve to win — they should start with DMYR’s five principles:

* “The best government is a small, Constitutionally-constrained one.”

* “A strong national defense is… vital to the preservation of our liberty.”

* “Capitalism is the only moral philosophical system.”

* Individual rights and personal responsibility.

* The Rule of law.

One thought on “How Republicans Can Win On Health Reform”

  1. LOVE your blog site.

    We’ve hit a gold mine, in preparation for an upcoming local Congressman’s townhall meeting on health care. (It only took three solid months of pressure for him to deign to speak with his constituents.)

    We do consult Cato’s site, as well as the Heritage Foundation’s, but you articulate the moral dimension of our opposition to government interference in health care.

    Again, thank you.

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