Republican Swears GOP Has Health-Care Policy Ideas Too. Really!

Republican wiz-kid and possible future presidential contender Bobby Jindal is right that health-care shouldn't be an exclusively Democratic issue.  And in this morning's Washington Post, he makes the case that Republicans should stand for more than opposition to the Democratic agenda and lays out 10 policy ideas to suggest a path forward.

But after a decade plus of ceding the popular health-care debate to Democrats, it feels a little desperate, like the insistence of a single member of the Online Role-Playing and Computerized Chess Players Club (meets every Thursday after school in the Linux lab!) -- maybe the one who does a little running on the weekends -- that, yes, they can too play football. It's certainly true that there are plenty of alternatives to Obama-style reforms. But by and large, they've come from libertarians, economists, and business thinkers. Aside from a few minor attempts to fiddle with the way the tax code treats benefits, Republicans have basically stayed out of the health-care game. 

There are a few good ideas in his list of ten ways to improve health-care -- increasing portability, price posting -- but, like Ramesh Ponnuru, I'm not thrilled with all of his proposals. Forcing insurance companies to sell policies to people regardless of pre-existing conditions may be politically popular, but experiments with such policies have produced disastrous results at the state level. Meanwhile, it's not clear that medical malpractice is really responsible for all that much of the recent increase in health-care costs -- and the cost increases it has caused may have been outweighed by patient outcomes

Still, the health-care policy debate has been monopolized by liberals for too long, and I'm happy to see any advances toward a more competitive idea market. And mixed bag that Jindal's solution set may be, it's definitely a step up for GOP health-care op-eds in the Post, the last two of which were Bob Dole's lame call for more mindless Beltway blathering bipartisanship and Michael Steele's pandering, pathetic defense of Medicare. That a piece like Jindal's is worthy of any notice at all should tell you something about the balance of the debate between the two parties: You know the bar is set pretty low when one side has to be congratulated just for having a couple of ideas.  

Update: Phil Klein has more on the underlying incoherence of Jindal's proposals.

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  • GILMORE||

    You know the bar is set pretty low when one side has to be congratulated just for having a couple of ideas.

    Not only that, but for gods sake, how long has it taken to come up with them?

    You'd think they might have spent the summer brainstorming, but noooooo.... its like they did their homework on the bus on the way to school.

    minor note on spelling, btw

    lays out *tend* policy ideas?

  • ||

    If their ideas have to be nearly as bad as the Dems ideas(forcing everyone to buy health insurance), isn't it in fact better if they have no ideas?

  • smartass sob||

    Definitely!

  • Peter Suderman||

    Fixed!

  • ||

    Stop falling to the oldest liberal trick in the book....

    Consider action 1 with payout A

    Consider (not) action 1 with payout B

    If B>A then the logical solution is to do nothing .

    Liberals operate under the assumption that A>B in all instances because we liberals said so and if you think you see a higher number in B you are obviously racist.

    Use you freakin head, don't fall for it.

  • Liberal Barbie||

    Math is hard!

  • Death Panelist||

    ...they can too play football.

    So far, the Dems have been the Detroit Lions on the healthcare gridiron. So yeah, the Republicans can probably hold their own against that.

  • P Brooks||

    You know the bar is set pretty low when one side has to be congratulated just for having a couple of ideas.

    Gird yourself for a scolding, Suderman; John's gonna be pissed when he sees that.

  • ||

    It is better to say nothing and stop bad ideas than propose bad ones yourself. Suderman is a typical liberal. The idea is to come up with a bright idea rather than do no harm. I vote for the party that has the smallest platform. They are the least likely to do harm.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    They're also the least likely to get elected. But that's been the libertarian problem since the beginning.

  • ||

    Forcing insurance companies to sell policies to people regardless of pre-existing conditions may be politically popular,

    Anyone who proposes this cannot be taken seriously. Period.

    Doing it the way Jindal proposes lets people wait to buy their fire insurance after their house ignites.

    What a lightweight list of reforms, basically a Dem-light proposal. Where's the deregulation, Bobby? Where's the recognition that, in a freer health insurance market, much of what you claim to want would/could be offered without more government control?

    Very disappointing. If this is the best the Repubs can do, we're better off without them in the game.

  • The Chad||

    Think we can hijack the Green Party? Then campaign on three common definitions of 'green:' sustainability, greed, and legalization

  • Random Dude||

    @GILMORE

    "Not only that, but for gods sake, how long has it taken to come up with them?"

    While I'm not a fan of some of the ideas--especially the prior coverage bit--most of these ideas have been around for a long.... long time (at least a decade).

    To say that the GOP just recently came up with them is incredibly irresponsible. If anything, it is media bias and an uncharismatic or lazy Republican party leadership that is to blame for not popularizing the ideas earlier.

    It does however prove that the messenger is more important than the message.

  • The Chad||

    It does however prove that the messenger is more important than the message.


    That's really the problem here, isn't it? Libertarians and capitalists may have the right idea, but unless you have a D, or to a lesser extent an R, after your name you're ignored and shunned

  • Ample Bossoms||

    "You know the bar is set pretty low when one side has to be congratulated just for having a couple of ideas."

    Obfuscate much, Suderman?

  • Ample Bossoms||

    "If anything, it is media bias and an uncharismatic or lazy Republican party leadership that is to blame for not popularizing the ideas earlier."

    Suderman confirms the former

  • MP||

    The link to the Maine Heritage Policy Center report is missing the f in pdf.

    And I love living near, but not in, Maine. People think Mass. taxes are bad, but they're nothing compared to Maine.

  • ||

    For a second time, we heard a democrat politician claim he could finance his government run program by cleaning up the waste, fraud and abuses in the current government run program. Okay. Let's see the clean up. The honest fact is that lack of insurance is not a fatal condition. I was once out of work for about 10 months. For 5 of those months I had no health insurance. Here I am. Myth busted. For that matter, much of the dental work for family comes out of pocket. People need to disavow themselves from the lame idea that somehow their health care is the responsibility of the government, their neighbors. People need as well to dispense with the lame notion that a trip to court against a doctor is going to a payday or a trip to the lottery.

  • Ample Bosoms||

    "People need to disavow themselves from the lame idea that somehow their health care is the responsibility of the government, their neighbors."

    But if the government won't take care of me, who will?

  • ||

    No to Suderman:

    Not a lot of posters on this thread. Wonder why?

  • ||

    Wow. So, this is the Republican response to the Alan Grayson rant(s). 44,000 people die every year for lack of health insurance, and this is the best they got? I guess Republicans aren't really looking for a fight on this one.

    In Taiwan, it was the conservatives that passed the national health plan, because it was so popular with the citizens they didn't want the liberals to get any credit.

    The fact is, we are already paying for everybody's health care. 17% of GDP. All other First World countries spend half of that. And we rank 37th in quality of care. At the rate of cost increases, just how much longer do you actually think you will be able to hold on to your health insurance?

    Personally, on this issue, I'd like to see the Democrats shove a single-payer system down the throats of the Republicans. But that will never happen. The health insurance industry is spending almost as much in lobbying money as the banking industry spends on fighting HR 1207.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Why is a national system necessary?

    Are states and cities unable to set up single-payer systems?

  • Kroneborge||

    People knocking the idea of letting people with pre-exisiting conditions get insusrance must not be paying attention to how the insurance markets really work, either that live in some kind of fantasy land where the government is going to stop paying for people's healthcare.

    Let's review the facts.

    1. ER's have to treat people
    2. If you are poor or old, the goverment will also pay for your care

    3. insurance companies are going to do their best to dump these people on the government (ie maximize profits).

    So, your choise is either give them coverage through the government, or through a private insurer.

    Private insurers actually don't mind insuring these people, as long as you stop people from self selecting.

    So let's review, one way or the other these people will be getting care, this is one way to make sure they have coverage.

  • ||

    Yet again, please do not forget about Paul Ryan & Tom Coburn's Patients Choice Act.

    http://coburn.senate.gov/publi.....479a10affc

    Just because it's not going to go anywhere is no excuse for falsely insisting the GOP does not put forward alternatives.

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  • ||

    But after a decade plus of ceding the popular health-care debate to Democrats, it feels a little desperate... It's certainly true that there are plenty of alternatives to Obama-style reforms. But by and large, they've come from libertarians, economists, and business thinkers.

    It's also true that most of those have been proposed by various Republican lawmakers (like Pence, or Paul Ryan, or Tom Coburn). It's also true that what you dismiss as "a few minor attempts to fiddle with the way the tax code treats benefits" is also pretty significant.

    And it's also true that the American people widely rejected a sensible health care reform last year involving those principles.

    I guarantee that loudly talking about any health care reform that I, or Peter Suderman, thinks would be a good idea would hurt Republicans in the polls and be one of the best ways to get the current House and Senate bills passed. Sadly.

  • ||

    Polls are rather overwhelming on this topic-- what is popular in health care polls is almost all incredibly stupid and contradictory. The only one that libertarians and Republicans could really work with at all to oppose this plan is the idea of people who currently have health care not wanting things to change.

  • anonymous||

    I liked the Phil Klein article, especially this bit:

    "A more problematic part of Jindal's article is his endorsement of a requirement forcing insurers to cover everybody with pre-existing conditions. Whatever you may say about such a requirement, it's completely inconsistent with conservative principles. The problem is that you can't enact such a policy in isolation. If the government requires insurers to cover everybody who applies, then it will also have to cap the price of insurance so that insurers can't just say, "sure, we'll cover you -- for $5,000 per month." But taken together, these two policies -- known as "guaranteed issue" and "community rating" -- have had disastrous implications at the state level. While those with pre-existing conditions can now get "affordable" insurance, the price of insurance skyrockets for healthier individuals. Given that insurers can't deny anybody coverage, people decide -- quite rationally -- that they may as well wait until they get sick to purchase insurance. The result is that healthy people exit the insurance market, and insurers flee to avoid getting stuck with disprortionately sick patients. But instead of learning their lesson, the response by policy-makers is to advocate expanding the role of government even more. Healthy people cant exit the market, policymakers argue, if they're required by law to purchase insurance or pay a tax. The result is the individual mandate. However, government can't mandate health coverage if a lot of people still can't afford it -- so the answer becomes expanding Medicaid and introducing new subsidies for people to purchase insurance. And so on. The point is that government begets more government, and you can't simply embrace one aspect of the big government health care proposals while ignoring the obvious ramifications of such a policy."

  • B||

    Why in the world should the Republicans bother to present any ideas? They will be rejected without any thought by the Dems, and it will distract the rest of the country from the failures of the Dems on the issue. Why take the spotlight of the train wreck? It would be terrible politics for the Republicans to present a plan, in my opinion. When a party is imploding, you don't throw them some sort of life line and allow them to unite against you.

  • ||

    So, your choise is either give them coverage through the government, or through a private insurer.

    Given this choice, isn't it pretty damn obvious that giving them coverage through the government is vastly superior?

    There is -- or could be -- a perfectly fine functioning market for health care and health insurance. The problem that needs to be solved is that some people due to poverty or health are priced out of that market.

    The solution is not to wreck the market by adding public options, mandating coverage, or -- worst of all -- prescribing comprehensive health insurance as the minimum acceptable health insurance. The solution is to provide those priced out of the market with outright welfare.

    Of course, one mechanism for that is to provide vouchers for the impoverished and the unhealthy that they can take to the insurance market. But other mechanisms, up to and including care in the ER, are all better than wrecking the market for the 75% who don't need the welfare.

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  • ||

    It is sad that on a libertarian site I have to read a staff writer bemoan the fact that one party or another isn't proposing more government involvement in an issue. The libertarian position should be to insist government begin getting out of health care. Medicare is busted, yet the misinformed idiots are clamoring for more. Suderman hasn't a clue about what libertarians stand for.

  • B||

    "Suderman hasn't a clue about what libertarians stand for."

    Yeah, I started to get suspicious in that regard too, right about the time I read he was guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan.

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