Here, Obama, Let Me Google Some Health-Care Reform Alternatives For You


Does Obama know how to use a web search engine? Sometimes I wonder. In a speech delivered to the AFL-CIO yesterday, the president took after opponents of health-care reform, accusing them of being obstructionists who lack solutions:

And because we're so close to real reform, the special interests are doing what they always do—trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo. But I've got a question for them: What's your answer? What's your solution? The truth is, they don't have one. It's do nothing.

I have no problem with the notion that there are some Republicans who are playing the health-care debate primarily for political advantage—blocking reform first and foremost to deal Obama a major political blow. But it's simply not true that reform opponents haven't offered solutions.Here's what I could come up with in about two minutes on the Google:

In The Wall Street Journal, John Mackey suggested eight reforms that would make health insurance more competitive, more affordable, and more responsive to consumer demand. Among his proposals: Allowing individuals to buy insurance across state lines, separating insurance from employment by doing away with the employer tax advantage, and posting prices so that consumers can make smarter, more cost-conscious decisions on routine health-care.

Here at Reason, Ron Bailey argued that American health-care is plagued not by too little insurance, but by too much, and that by paying directly for more routine care rather than letting insurance insulate patients from costs, we could bring down costs and create a more functional health-care market.

At Forbes, the Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia wrote about how the American Medical Association, with the help of Congress, helps limit the country's doctor supply, thus keeping prices artificially high. 

In The New York Times, Ramesh Ponnuru explained why mandatory universal coverage isn't likely to be the best way to solve our health-care problems and suggested, instead, that we break the link between employment and coverage and drop state coverage mandates.

There's more out there from smart policy analysts like Arnold Kling and Michael Cannon, as well as from business-minded thinkers like Regina Hertzlinger and David Goldhill.

No, not all of these essays and books come with thousand-page pieces of legislation attached (thank goodness!), but every one of them offers innovative ideas for how to administer health-care and how to pay for it—ideas that, by and large, Obama has ignored.

Why? It's impossible to say for sure, but I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the fact that all of the ideas mentioned above would change health-care in ways that empower individuals, rely on markets, and emphasize patient choice and preference rather than government authority. No matter what the reason, however, it's just not true that reform opponents aren't proposing solutions. What seems a lot more likely is that Obama just isn't listening.

Read even more about what ails U.S. health care in Reason's health-care archive.