Last week I addressed Senator Bennet’s assertion that “health care is a moral obligation.” (You can read last week’s letter at www.luke2010.com.) But the questions remain: How did we get here, with so many unable to get adequate care? And what then should we do?
We got here because of concerted government action. That action has taken away your power, your freedom.
To illustrate, imagine being in an examination room with your doctor. You’re sitting against the far wall on the cushy table with that weird butcher paper. Looking up, you notice a whole slew of other people lurking around the room.
Your doctor walks in and discovers she has to squeeze through several types of federal government employees, from tax policy makers to Medicare regulators to FDA scientists. Stepping around them, she shimmies past your employer, your insurer, and several state government regulators. Behind those folks loiter several judges and lawyers, around whom she very gingerly tiptoes. With this kind of crowd in that tiny room, there is no way you and your doctor can have a truly candid and free relationship.
Most of these interlopers have crowded into your exam room at the behest of your government and in the name of helping you, or of helping the poor or the elderly, or of making health care “safe”. In this they have failed, and instead they have driven up the cost of health care, lowering its quality, and diminishing the efficiency of the entire system.
So what’s the answer?
Get the government out of the health care business.
Kick all of the buttinskies out of the room. The federal government, the state government, your employer, most of those lawyers, and to a great extent your insurer should have no place in that room. That means there should be no Medicare, no Medicaid, and no rigid and complex regulations. There should be a completely free and open health care system, unencumbered by the well-meaning but bumbling intruders.
Moving from our current system to a mostly government-free one presents a challenge, as does any reform measure, especially since I see myself—and accordingly my proposals—as being bound by the text of the Constitution.
To make sure no one gets hurt in the process, I propose that we persuade—not force—the states to give stipends to their citizens that are currently dependent on government programs. Base the stipends on actual medical need, and then let folks decide for themselves how to provide for their own care. With cash in hand, people would demonstrate by their actions how valuable health care is to them, introducing an efficiency that no government bureaucracy could ever achieve.
I recognize this idea is ambitious and beyond what many people think is possible. That’s OK. If I recall correctly, the founding of our country embodied ideas even more ambitious and less likely to happen.
But imagine if the federal government immediately eliminated all health care regulations and got out of the health care business altogether. Imagine if you had the power and the freedom to get the kind of care that you wanted. What would happen?
Young people would buy insurance protecting them only from catastrophic circumstances (which is really what “insurance” is in the first place). Others would buy health care payment plans. Still others would discover that they didn’t need as much care as they were previously purchasing.
Most importantly, prices would fall and the quality and availability of care would increase.
The poor would have a safety net due to the stipends provided by the state governments. Private charities would step up to fill any voids that may exist. In the end, we would have a health care system that responds to individual needs and preferences. With lower costs and better quality, more people would be able to get the care they need and our populace would be healthier.
The government has already demonstrated its incompetence in the health care arena. I suggest that our government return to you the power to take care of yourself. That’s the best kind of “universal” health care.
Candidate for the United States Senate