Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Conservatives Should Read Ezra Klein

I try not to get too polictical on my blog. I consider myself a moderate. I supported passage of the health care reform bill, but mainly because if it had failed, in my opinion, discussions of true health care reform would be stalled for another decade. Though there are some good things about the current legislation (removal of pre-existing conditions for example), there is nothing really that addresses the escalating costs of health care.

Though most political news recently has been about taxes, health care reform is in the news again today, due to a judge's ruling regarding the consitutionality of the individual mandate. You can read the NY Times or Washington Post's coverage. Pundits on the left and right will likely once again discuss their positions on both sides of the health care debate.

However, journalist (and notably liberal talking head) Ezra Klein had some very interesting comments that those on the right would be wise to take note of. In addition to pointing out that the President Obama was the one opposed to the individual mandate during the primaries and criticized Hillary Clinton for supporting this, he states:

The individual mandate began life as a Republican idea. Its earliest appearances in legislation were in the Republican alternatives to the Clinton health-care bill, where it was co-sponsored by such GOP stalwarts as Bob Dole, Orrin G. Hatch and Charles E. Grassley. Later on, it was the centerpiece of then-Gov. Mitt Romney's health-reform plan in Massachusetts.....It was only when the individual mandate appeared in President Obama's legislation that it became so polarizing on the right..... The individual mandate was created by conservatives who realized that it was the only way to get universal coverage into the private market. Otherwise, insurers turn away the sick, public anger rises, and, eventually, you get some kind of government-run, single-payer system, much as they did in Europe, and much as we have with Medicare. If Republicans succeed in taking it off the table, they may sign the death warrant for private insurers in America: Eventually, rising cost pressures will force more aggressive reforms than even Obama has proposed, and if conservative judges have made the private market unfixable by removing the most effective way to deal with adverse selection problems, the only alternative will be the very constitutional, but decidedly non-conservative, single-payer path.

In other words, the only way that we can afford health care coverage for most Americans (whether it be provided by the government or the private sector) is if everyone pays something to have it, and the fiscally conservative Republicans knew this, which is why they suggested this in the first place. Interesting.