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Philip Klein and my former colleague Greg Conko have a new paper out making the case against the current batch of health-care reform proposals.
The criticisms of liberal reforms are sharp, but what really makes the paper worthwhile are two aspects. The first is that, contrary to the president's accusation that those who oppose reform have no solutions of their own, they actually propose and detail a number of useful, specific reforms, including some that tend to get less attention, like curbing regulations on medical devices and new drugs that artificially increase scarcity (and, as a result, drive up costs).
The second is that they fully recognize that the current health-care system is a disaster, and that the reforms they propose wouldn't necessarily ensure that those with chronic preexisting conditions have access to health insurance. But, they say, the current patchwork of ill-thought-out government regulations of the health care market is so problematic—and, in fact, exacerbates our health care problems so much—that it must be fixed before addressing the few remaining problem cases.
It's too easy for reform skeptics to simply point out flaws and implicitly defend the status quo; Klein and Conko deserve credit for refusing to do so.
If I have a quibble with the paper, it's the suggestion that we cap punitive damages in medical malpractice cases. No doubt, there are excessive malpractice awards given out on occasion—they refer to these as "jackpots"—but I'm not convinced that the resulting savings from caps would be significant, and I think we ought to err on the side of giving wronged patients every opportunity for legal recourse.
That said, Conko and Klein have done some solid, capable work. More than that, they've proven, once again, that anyone who buys the president's argument that opponents of liberal reform don't have anything to offer just isn't listening.