Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Alternative

Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.

Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972), French singer and entertainer

ObamaCare supporters argue the health law isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.

The alternative, as they see it, is going back to the bad old days when the old, the sick and the uninsured were left unattended on the mean streets to die.

Then, supporters are likely to add, ObamaCare opponents have no alternative – no single master plan to cover the uninsured. They seldom add that ObamaCare will leave 30 million uninsured, even when carried out as planned.

The problem with this line of reasoning is two fold:

One, maestro Harry Reid never allows GOP plans to be brought to a vote in the Senate and the media seldom acknowledges the alternative.

Two, there is no single alternative to ObamaCare, only a series of alternatives based on market forces, rather than a single government law.

John Mackay, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, Inc, has neatly packaged these series of alternatives into a single package of eight alternatives ( “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare: Eight Things We Can Do to Improve Health Care without Adding to the Deficit,” WSJ, August 11).

He prefaces his argument with the Margaret Thatcher quote, “The problem with socialism if that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

That, of course is the market argument, that government control drives up deficits and only economic growth can cure these deficits.

There may be some substance to this reasoning as countries with socialized systems turn to market-based alternatives and private plans to cut entitlement spending, stimulate their faltering economies, satisfy their people, and offer quicker access and improve results for the sick in a timely manner without rationing.

In a recent WSJ Op-Ed, Scott W. Atlas, MD, a physician and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, asserts:

“ The single-payer model that liberals aspire to for the U.S. is increasingly in trouble around the world.(“Where ObamaCare Is Going,” WSJ. August 14).

Here is John MacKay’s marketplace Whole Food’s basket case of eight alternatives to ObamaCare.

1. Remove legal obstacles to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

2. Equalize employer-covered and individual-owned health plans.

3. Repeal state laws prohibiting shopping across state lines.

4. Remove government mandates.

5. Enact tort reform.

6. Make costs transparent.

7. Enact Medicare and Medicaid reforms.

8. Revise tax forms to make it easy for people to make tax-free donations to the uninsured.

But you may say, to do all these things at once would be complicated. It is equally complicated, perhaps even more so, to take ten years to carry out the 2700 pages of mandates inherent in the Affordable Care Act. Competition and transparency is no more complicated than control and bureaucracy, and it may be quicker and more compatible with individual liberties.

To quote Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin, author of The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea,

" There is an alternative: the Founder’s vision, which puts individuals, their families and communities – not government – at the center of American life..What does this vision look like in action? For starters, it favors choice and competition over government-run would make health are a true market over government-run solutions."

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