Saturday, August 25, 2007

Romney proposes letting free market fix health care

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

"A one-size-fits-all national health care system is bound to fail. It ignores the sharp difference between states and it relies on Washington bureaucracy to manage," Romney said. "I don't want the people who ran the Katrina cleanup to manage our health care system."

The government's role is to facilitate changes, not mandate them, Romney said during a speech before the Florida Medical Association.

Health insurance costs can be reduced by deregulating the insurance market, capping malpractice damages and making sure everyone is insured, Romney said.

"The problem of the uninsured is a problem for all Americans," he said, because those who can pay for health insurance help foot the bill for those who cannot.

Instead of using federal money to reimburse hospitals for treating people without insurance, that money should be used to help low-income people buy insurance at a lower cost, Romney said.

Click here for the rest.

One of the philosophical tipping points for my shift from conservative to liberal years ago was a realization at some point in the late 80s or early 90s that all this talk about "market solutions" to social problems is a bunch of bullshit. I'm quite dubious that a for-profit approach has any chance at all of dealing with complex problems like poverty or crime, but what really pushed me to the other side was the growing sense that these conservatives touting the magic wonders of the market don't really care about curing social ills. Over the years, I've seen weird Heritage Foundation ideas in this area come and go, usually with no effect on the problem they were supposed to solve, sometimes making the problem worse.

Romney's bullshit about health care is a textbook example. Note how he puts what is obviously a national problem, dealing with national insurance and health care providers, in terms of the states--it's been a while since we've heard the right wing going on about "state's rights," which is clearly because they've controlled the federal government these past seven years, and didn't really need to bother with the rhetoric, which they never really believed in the first place; I guess they're expecting Democratic rule to continue for some time, and are hauling out a dependable old warhorse. It's also interesting to note that he uses Republican government failure, Katrina, to indict the federal government's ability to deal with problems--nice try, Mitt, but I think FEMA fucked up because Republicans go to Washington to destroy government, not run it.

But I digress.

In short, capping malpractice suit awards was done in Texas a few years back. Insurance rates went up, not down. This is not a good idea. And as far as deregulation goes, well, the health insurance market doesn't behave like other markets. Not at all. All deregulation will do is backfire; it will allow these vampires in business suits to suck all the more blood, which they're quite good at doing right now with what few regulations already exist.

The bottom line here is that Romney and other Republicans are simply spouting conservative ideological slogans. They have no idea what they're talking about on this issue, but then, they don't really care: they've all got good coverage; they're just looking for ways to get more campaign money from the extraordinarily wealthy insurance industry.

Single payer, like the system they have in Canada, is our only hope.