In America, healthcare is looked upon more as a right than a service. It isn’t mentioned in the Bill of Rights nor the Constitution, but there is nevertheless an unwritten social contract that all Americans should receive healthcare, whether they can pay for it or not.
If you doubt this is true, just try getting groceries at the supermarket without paying for them. Try living in your house without making the mortgage payments. Try reading a book at night if you didn’t pay the electric bill. In all of these examples, there will be swift action by the providers to take away their product.
But in America, if you can’t afford your healthcare, the rest of us will wind up paying for it, through higher taxes, higher insurance premiums or higher hospital bills. Employers won’t be allowed to drop you from their insurance plan just because you’re sick and insurance companies are no longer allowed to charge more just because you have pre-existing medical conditions.
John C. Goodman, healthcare economist and Forbes writer, says any Republican candidate who doesn’t understand this unique social contract isn’t ready to be president. He’s referring specifically to Governor Bobby Jindal and his response to Governor Scott Walker’s new healthcare plan. (see Walker Releases Healthcare Reform Plan)
Governor Jindal said, “In a health care plan that is light on specifics, Governor Walker endorsed the fundamental underpinning of Obamacare – the notion that America needs another entitlement program. In Governor Walker’s plan, a new entitlement is created for every single American human being from the time they are born right up until they grow old and become eligible for Medicare. It is frankly shocking that a Republican candidate for President would author a cradle to grave plan like this.”
“Governor Walker has taken the bait laid out for him by the President, and has accepted the notion that we need a new federal government entitlement program, and now he is merely quibbling over the details. So here we are again, not standing on free market principles, but rather, establishing ourselves as ‘cheaper Democrats.’”
Goodman correctly points out to Governor Jindal that we already have a healthcare entitlement. It goes by the names Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). We also have community health centers that try to pick up the healthcare needs of those that fall through the cracks of the above systems.
He says it really boils down to this: Democrats have more or less decided how much money we are going to spend on health care and it will be difficult for Republicans to roll this back. What Republicans can do is determine how the money is to be spent.
Walker’s plan calls for the government to give the money to people, instead of bureaucrats, and let them decide how they want to spend it. His plan calls for competition between healthcare providers (hospitals and doctors) that should improve quality and lower costs. He also calls for competition between insurers to meet individual and family needs rather than the government’s needs.
Governor Jindal’s own plan calls for tax deductions, instead of refundable tax credits, to allow people to purchase their health insurance. Tax deductions are useless for those Americans (47%) who pay little or no income taxes. He calls for giving money to state governments to meet the needs of those who cannot afford health insurance. This is simply accepting that Medicaid is as good as we can do; it eliminates competition and upholds the status quo for poor Americans.
Goodman likes Walker’s plan for refundable tax credits; but would go even further than Walker to make them available. Walker’s plan calls for tax credits of $900 per child and age-adjusted credits for adults up to a maximum of $3000 at ages 50 to 64. Goodman would prefer a universal tax credit available to everyone, regardless of income and regardless of where health insurance is obtained. This gets government out of the way and allows the free marketplace to determine the proper cost of health insurance and what type of coverage the consumer needs.
The less the government is involved in the decisions of healthcare, the more freedom patients will have to pick their doctors, the amount of coverage they want, and the amount they want to spend on that coverage. This will provide better quality healthcare at a lower cost while preserving our religious freedoms. That’s the kind of healthcare America needs!