Romney isn’t terribly inspiring, but as of right now, he’s the likely nominee for president. It behooves us, therefore, to examine his policies. To a lesser degree, we should examine the political impact of his positions.
Romney’s Health Care plan is neatly summarized in five bullet points:
- Restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.
- Give a tax deduction to those who buy their own health insurance, just like those who buy it through their employers.
- Streamline the federal regulation of healthcare.
- Reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs.
- Make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.
If you held a gun to my head, and demanded that I write out the best thought out plan for the federal government health care, something that could actually pass both houses of congress, assuming that the republicans control the house and only have marginal control over the senate, I would probably come up with the plan Romney did.
First, putting states in charge of issues outside of the Federal constitution is a great idea all around. The federal government should not be a national government. Let the states decide how to collect, allocate, and manage welfare dollars.
Second, the tax deduction for health care plans will open up the free market on a national level. When you can choose between the plans your employer offers, or some other plans, then the market immediately expands. Different insurance companies will come up with different plans to cater to different needs.
“Streamlining” the federal regulations is awfully vague. What I hope it means is that he will reduce the overall impact of federal regulations, keeping those bits which honestly improve the market environment, and eliminating those which are just red tape.
Finally, by turning health care into a consumer market rather than a government program, we put the free market to work for us. We allow innovation, ownership, and other key concepts to enter the health care market, and allow people to decide how they want to allocate their assets.
The biggest complaint against Romney (among republican primary voters and pundits) appears to be his support of “RomneyCare”, Massachusetts’ health care plan that was enacted while he was governor. It appears like the Obama Administration is attempting a “death hug”, embracing Romney as a fellow traveler to reduce his popularity among Obama’s opponents. His position on putting states in charge, and merely creating an open, free market at the national level is directly in line with his positions on health care as the governor of Massachusetts.
I think those who think Romney would try to bring a national health plan ala RomneyCare if he became president should reconsider their expectation. It is entirely reasonable to support the socialization of health care on the state level, but embrace an open market on the federal level. If you look at our nation’s history, socialization experiments were routinely attempted at the state level. It wasn’t until prohibition that people tried enforcing national standards outside of the parameters of the constitution. To bring someone like Romney in, who supports some degree of socialized medicine at the state level, only to explain that national socialization is against our interests, would help people understand the true strength of our federal system of government.
As for myself, I don’t believe the government should be involved in health care anywhere near the level it is today, not on the state, national, or even community level. I believe we should allow people to freely contribute what they like to charitable institutions, including hospitals and other medical establishments. I believe we would have a surplus of medical care for the poor and sick if we did.