Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A few thoughts on tomorrow's Healthcare Summit

Tomorrow is Obama's big healthcare summit. Many Republicans rightfully believe that this is some sort of political set up. I agree. Obama's strategists have convinced him that the GOP doesn't have any ideas so they concocted this forum in the hopes of exposing their lack of real ideas to the American people.

My view is that the GOP needs to come to the summit ready to aggressively push a reasonable and rational plan for fixing what ails our healthcare system.

A lot of the problems with the healthcare system originate in the state governments. The GOP likes to mention our litigious tort system. This is clearly a state-driven problem. The states have caused other problems as well, for example:

1.) Most states have legislated minimum types of coverage for health plans. Like everything else the government gets its sticky fingers into, what winds up as part of the "minimum coverage" is largely decided by special interests. So, if I don't want to pay for acupuncture or massage therapy, tough luck -- these must be included in the plan by law, which makes the plan more expensive.

2.) The issue with not being able to offer insurance across state lines is also largely the fault of the states that restrict the companies that get to offer health insurance in their states. Of course political payoffs, like campaign contributions have nothing whatsoever to do with who gets to offer insurance and who doesn't.

3.) Finally, most states have legislated out all creativity and innovation from the insurance industry. For example, a couple of months ago a clinic in New York started offering unlimited patient visits for a flat fee of $75 a month. Everyone thought this was a wonderful idea, except the brain dead state government who said it was illegal to do this because that would make the clinic an insurance company.

This is actually a larger problem than just healthcare. All heavily government regulated industries are laboring under foolish laws that makes them uncompetitive in an increasingly competitive world.

The country needs legislation, or maybe even a constitutional amendment that forbids federal, state, and local governments from granting monopolies to businesses or doing anything else that restricts businesses from entering markets. (Professional licensing, etc. would still be okay as long as it was applied uniformly to everyone.)

If we unshackle the creative and competitive nature of the American people, the big problems that we have today won't be so big tomorrow.

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