Just as our Task Force is getting started, NPR has a story on John McCain’s perspective on the issue. They outline his preferred approach – which seems generally right, and then they perpetuate one of the myths that might sink any meaningful reform.
“The problem is not that most Americans lack adequate health insurance — the vast majority of Americans have private insurance, and our government spends billions each year to provide even more,” McCain has said. “The biggest problem with the American health care system is that it costs too much.”
McCain wants to get people to buy their own insurance, rather than get it through their jobs. NPR’s Julie Rovner reports that McCain would accomplish this in a variety of ways: giving people tax credits, encouraging more people to set up tax-advantaged health savings accounts, and letting them buy insurance policies across state lines.
And no mandates for McCain. If you don’t want health insurance, you don’t have to get it.
What do you think of this plan? Would tax breaks encourage you to buy your own insurance? Is a mandate to have health care a good or bad idea? (emphasis added)
A mandate that everyone be insured is not a mandate that they have good health care (it would be impossible to mandate that everyone have good health care). Health Insurance ≠ Health Care. So long as we confuse the two the insurance industry will sway the debate in their own favor. Giving everyone insurance, no matter what method you use, will not guarantee that they have good health care.
As our Utah task force held their first meeting (which I could not attend) I was worried that they would not actively try to include consumers among their stakeholders, leaving the influence to industry professionals and lobbyists. I was very encouraged as I listened to the audio of the meeting when Senator Killpack listed consumers among the five major stakeholders for the task they are tackling.