Sunday, August 16, 2009
Health Care and the Economy: Things the Government Can Do To Help
It is reported that we have a health care problem in America. Practically no one would claim that we don’t. Yet when “solutions” are proposed, people are sometimes too anxious to accept the assumptions of the people proposing the solutions.
For example, it was said that there are 47-50 million people without health insurance coverage. This is like the numbers given for the homeless several years ago. There were 20 million, or whatever, we were told, but it turns out it was just a number pulled out of the air and the real number was nowhere near that. It’s like people telling us we have only 1 year or 5 years or 10 years to fix global warming or that’s it, we’re fried. And that was several years ago. About 30 years ago, it was global cooling we needed to fear. Now it’s “climate change.” Anything to sell the idea that it’s expanded government control or we all die.
There are a number of uninsured people. But it’s nowhere near 50 million.
Another phony premise is that whatever is done, it must affect everyone. Not so. The people who need help and can’t (not won’t) help themselves can be helped with their insurance coverage through means much less complicated and expensive than the plans we’re hearing about from the Democrats in Washington. And these methods might even be constitutional, unlike the current proposals.
When they tell us we can keep our current coverage, the only way they can be believed is if government stays out of it!
What I am saying is that it’s not necessary or desirable to accept the notion that a massive overhaul of the system is needed, or that the problems extant reflect a failure of the free market.
If the government could bring themselves to do the following things, they would significantly increase tax revenues to the government,
provide coverage to many who don’t currently have it,
and increase employment to normal levels within a reasonably short time.
1. Make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
2. Provide tax incentives (not subsidies) to insurance companies who accept pre-existing conditions and who provide portable coverage.
3. Provide tax incentives to employers who furnish health insurance coverage to their employees. Don’t restrict high deductible and catastrophic coverage.
4. Pass serious tort reform to limit malpractice awards.
5. Stop trying to control medical salaries.
6. Keep insurance companies in Medicare for administering plans.
7. Let Medicare deal with cost inequities in that system, but make reimbursements adequate to retain physician support.
8. Perhaps most important for the economy, cut corporate tax rates and capital gains rates.
9. Don’t tax any health care or related benefits.
10. Allow greater deductibility of medical and insurance expenses, not less.
11. Hold off on any kind of tax increases and bury cap and trade.
12. Forget about nationalizing health care.
13. Encourage drug companies to develop new and better medicines by not pressuring them to give up substantial profits.
14. Stop complaining about services to the seriously or chronically ill and the elderly.
15. Stop inaccurate comparisons of American health care with that of other countries. If you must make comparisons, show the factors that affect the differences and could be misleading.
16. Show some pride in American health care and America in general.
17. For the uninsured who can’t afford coverage, provide premium payment assistance, not government insurance. Do this through the states, e.g., Medicaid (not unfunded mandates).
18. Stop attacking insurance companies, drug companies and medical providers for trying to earn a profit. Forget about controlling anyone’s income. These all pay their share of taxes. When incomes and profits go down, employment goes down and tax revenue goes down.
19. Stop trying to get people to believe that raising taxes on “the rich” will not hurt people other than the rich. High taxes on “the rich” hurt everyone, especially workers.
20. Don’t pass any super-costly government programs until we reach something close to full employment (say, 4 to 5% unemployment). Even then, show some restraint. We already have a serious deficit, but if the economy can get moving, that can stay under control with fiscal restraint.
It would not be too difficult to significantly improve the economy and our health care system if the above could be done. If the Administration were serious about helping the economy and the health care situation, they would be doing some of the things listed above in a meaningful way. Let’s see what happens after they give up on Obamacare.
(Look, no videos or footnotes this time! But wait until the next one!)