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Liberal Democracy

Liberal Democracy
The Free State

Monday, November 14, 2011

Firing Line: William F. Buckley- Are Health Care Costs Controllable?- From 1994

President Bill Clinton did a smart thing and made a solid contribution to the health care reform debate back in 1993-94. When he put it on the national agenda and actually offered his own plan. That he sent to Congress, unlike President Obama in 2009-10 even though it crashed and burn. When Senate Republicans were able to block the legislation in the Senate let by Minority Leader Bob Dole. But to be fair Senate Democrats probably didn't have the votes to pass the bill. And the Clinton health care plan never made it out of the Democratic House either. But what President Clinton was able to accomplish was to let Americans know how serious a problem it is.

When so many people in America, in 1994 roughly 40M people are unable to pay for their health care, which means the rest of us have to pay their health care bills for them. The hospitals pick up their health care for the people who can't afford it and pass those costs onto people with health insurance. Which makes people's health insurance more expensive, because now they have to pay not only for themselves and their kids. But to pay for people who don't have health insurance as well. Just backing up libertarian commentator Milton Friedman's notion, that there's no such thing as a free lunch. We all pay in one way or the other. What President Clinton was successful in doing in health care, was passing SCHIP- State Children's Healthcare Program. I don't agree with the design of the program, like relying on people to smoke to finance it. But it did give more children health insurance as well as reforming Medicare in 1997 with a Republican Congress.

I believe bringing down our healthcare costs are fairly simple and something we have to do for our economy. 18-20% of GDP is way to expensive especially when most of our competitors spends half of that. And it gets to expanding health insurance or health savings accounts for everyone, so we all pay for our health care one way or another. And the individual mandate is a way to do that, as well as a public option not mandate. That people could go to for their health insurance. Not a one size fits all solution from the Federal Government. But having each state set up their own health insurance system to meet the needs of their own population.

And then we also simply have to do a better job taking care of ourselves and this gets to individual responsibility. So we don't have to consume as much health care in the future, encouraging healthy behavior and discouraging unhealthy behavior. One of the reasons why I'm in favor of what I call a Progressive Consumption Tax to replace the income tax. So we could tax unhealthy behavior and encourage healthy behavior. President Clinton did a good job of at least advancing the health care reform debate in America and putting ideas on the table. Like the health insurance mandate that was in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. But screwed up the selling if his plan and tried to make it be everything to everybody. And didn't do a very good job of selling his own plan and defending the attacks of his plan. From Congressional Republicans and their allies.