Obamacare

More Vague GOP Health Care Ideas

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is the latest GOP smarty-pants to insist via major daily op-ed that, when it comes to health care, Republicans really do have ideas. More than one, even! Still, one wonders if the supply has dwindled recently: Unlike similar pieces by Bobby Jindal and Newt Gingrich and John Goodman, each of which proposed 10 ideas, Pawlenty's Washington Post piece only has five. Maybe they're really good?

Sadly, no. As with previous Republican offerings on the topic of health care, it's at best a mixed bag—far too vague and far too dependent on regulation and bureaucratic tweaking to solve problems. "Modernize health insurance"? Government-set performance metrics for health care providers? As Cato health policy analyst Michael Cannon points out in an excellent point-by-point rundown (worth reading in full!), it's not clear what Pawlenty means by all of his suggestions, nor even that Pawlenty really knows. With this op-ed, what Pawlenty, like any number of Republican politicians before him (Paul Ryan being the notable exception), has proven once again is not that the Republican party has a strong, clear command of health care policy, but that, at least so far, it doesn't.

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  1. Don’t think, just adopt Cato’s suggestions. Why the hell not?

    1. How much do they differ from Mackey’s?

      But, to answer your question: because no one in the political class would benefit from having market forces do the heavy lifting. You can’t breed a dependent class on that.

      1. And you can’t get your name in the history books or get any of your cronies rich on that. I mean seriously, unless you are some kind of sex fiend and went into politics to get laid, if you can’t steal, who would want the job?

        1. There are other ways to steal from us. They could at least make a good run at attacking this kind of nonsense, even if they must impose other kinds on us.

          1. Is it just me, or does it seem like the grownups aren’t in charge any longer? (I know, silly question)

            It used to be that Congress could at least face reality in limited situations, say, the SS reform in 1986, or arms treaties, and do something even nominally constructive about it. Now, it only seems that the Ministry of Empathy overrides any impulse to make hard choices and instead we must give the appearance of soothing everyone’s brow, while in reality it’s stoking the flames of the house burning down around you.

            It’s like Mary Poppins has a sick and twisted arson streak burbling up. ?”A spoonful of flaming sterno makes the medicine go down, the medicine go down…”?

          2. But stopping nonsense and leaving people alone does not a historic legacy make. You have to understand the kind of warped mentality of people who go into public service. They don’t want to leave people alone and let them live their lives. They want to actively change the world. The whole point is for them to achieve some kind of self actualization. And they can only do that through big programs. We are just extras in their movie.

            Honestly, we would be better off if we had some kind of Heinlein type off world war to send these people to and give them an outlet for their neurosis so the rest of us could get on with our lives in peace.

            1. Honestly, we would be better off if we had some kind of Heinlein type off world war to send these people to and give them an outlet for their neurosis so the rest of us could get on with our lives in peace.

              I was thinking more of a Philip K. Dick world where we could hunt them down on a game show.

  2. Proof that neither party is worth a damn. Democrats are right that the status quo is unsustainable, but their solutions leave much to be desired. Republicans mostly defend the status quo, and any “reform” they undertake will be aimed at preserving it.

    Both are in the pocket of lobbyists and special interests, who will get special priveleges no matter who is in charge. That’s one thing that libertarians have learned the past couple of years; don’t trust business or government to advocate for free markets. It’s like asking the foxes and wolves to guard the hens and cattle.

  3. Pawlenty is a typical no balls Republican who just can’t bear to tell the truth that the solution to the problem is less government not more. No, he can’t say that. All the right thinking people in Washington would make fun of him. He would no longer be considered a serious person. He would be like (GASP!!) Sarah Palin.

    It would nice if someone (anyone) would just be honest and perhaps we didn’t create the problem over night and we are not going to solve it overnight. The current health care system was built over decades by a huge series of decisions some big and some small. You are not undoing that or changing that in one big program. So forget about “comprehensive health care reform”. Instead, lets start small and do a few things like tort reform, allowing interstate insurance competition, and bigger medical savings accounts. Then after we see how those work, we can move on to other smaller fixes. And maybe in ten or fifteen years we can get a few things done and be in a better position.

    But noo, we can’t do that. Our political class could never take the modest, effective program when a huge one time historic stick my face in the camera for posterity is available. Out whole political and pundit class needs to be flushed.

    1. So forget about “comprehensive incomprehensible health care reform”.

      FIFY

    2. Switzerland did it. The country had a market-oriented system similar to ours until 1994 when they junked it in favor of single-payer. The result? They spend 11.8% of their GDP on health care, while we spend nearly 17%. Just because the government does it doesn’t mean it’s bad.

  4. Holy crap look at the size of that guy’s thumb!

    Caption Contest!

    “You don’t want this up your butt. The woodchuck either.”

    1. That’s a porn thumb. An implant, of course. It’s all coming out later this year.

      1. That kind of surgery can be done over the weekend!

    2. Now you know why they call him “Smilin’ Tim.”

    3. And the stunned gofer said “You want to put that where?”

    4. “And this is a shout-out to my Moms, Sissy. I love you Mom!”

    5. thumb envy.

  5. Pawlenty’s got a big brown beaver, and he strokes him all the time

    1. +100 for the Les Claypool ref.

    2. That is not a beaver. It is a gofer. Know your rodents man.

      1. It’s neither. It is a Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Spermophilus tridecemlineatus (formerly Citellus spp.):

        http://icwdm.org/handbook/rodents/13linedgroundsquirrel.asp

        1. But that is the Minnesota Golden Gofer mascot.

          1. Yes, it is and it is patterned after the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. “Gopher” is part of the regional dialect. Just ask the Minnesota DNR:

            “The Minnesota gopher, famous symbol of the University of Minnesota, is actually the 13-lined ground squirrel. It weighs from five to nine ounces, and is buff colored with light and dark stripes down its back.

            The “gopher” is found in pastures, roadsides, and other short grass areas throughout the state, except the northeast. Seeds and insects are its main foods. While many burrowing animals leave piles of dirt about their burrow, the gopher scatters the dirt widely. Entrances to its burrow appear only as small holes on the surface.”

            http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/squirrels/index.html

            1. I bow to your superior knowledge of rodents.

    3. beaver envy

  6. Has anyone uploaded that pic to beaverorchipmunk.com yet?

    1. Is that a porn link?

      1. It soon will be.

  7. “the problem over night and we are not going to solve it overnight…was built over decades by a huge series of decisions some big and some small. You are not undoing that or changing that in one big program. So forget about …Instead, lets start small and do a few things like ….Then after we see how those work, we can move on to other smaller fixes. And maybe in ten or fifteen years we can get a few things done and be in a better position.”

    1. WTF is that supposed to mean. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps not every problem facing the country is analogous to the civil rights movement?

      The liberal trolls put up some dumb ass shit. But this takes the cake.

      1. “the problem over night and we are not going to solve it overnight…was built over decades by a huge series of decisions some big and some small. You are not undoing that or changing that in one big program. So forget about …Instead, lets start small and do a few things like ….Then after we see how those work, we can move on to other smaller fixes. And maybe in ten or fifteen years we can get a few things done and be in a better position.”

        1. Actually, the “women heard this to[o]” with the extra “o” is getting into some pretty good trolling. Come on who is this? Sugerfree? It is not quite vulgar enough for him. Episiarch maybe?

          1. Don’t look at me. I’m just waiting to dog sled home.

          2. More vulgar than Sugarfree and Epi? Are you trying to flatter me? Btw, too is correct.

    2. Ah, you’re criticizing the Democrats for opposing Bush’s Social Security proposals, right?

      Or perhaps criticizing politicians of both parties for not getting rid of the terrible farm supports?

      1. I thought it was talking about Oprah’s dieting plans.

  8. That is not a beaver. It is a gofer. Know your rodents man.

    Whatever. Primus didn’t write a song about a gopher, dude.

  9. “Modernize health insurance”

    Guess that’s not by using actuarial tables?

  10. Universal HealthCare sounds real attractive right now.

    OK, not really but damn is healthcare waaaaay too expensive.

  11. Republicans/conservatives can’t reconcile Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms with their Christian/altruist morality, which demands self-sacrifice.

  12. Republicans/conservatives can’t reconcile Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms with their Christian/altruist morality which demands self-sacrifice.

  13. Republicans/conservatives can’t reconcile Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms with their Christian/altruist morality which demands self-sacrifice.

  14. Republicans/conservatives can’t reconcile Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms with their Christian/altruist morality which demands self-sacrifice.

  15. “Modernize health insurance” is exactly the wrong thing to do. What we need is a return to the days of yesteryear, when health insurance was, you know, insurance. Against catastrophic liabilities that you couldn’t afford.

    What has wrecked our healthcare system is low deductibles, first dollar coverage, social engineering via faux-insurance paid for by someone else.

    Go back to catastrophic policies, paid, ideally, by individuals, and allow hospitals and doctors to choose who they will see, and most of our health care market dysfunction problems will be solved.

    But, you cry, R.C., you heartless bastard, what about the poor? I answer, [adjusts monocle], that true safety-net programs are an entirely different issue that would only matter at the margin. I could live with a genuine safety-net program that paid the costs of urgent and emergent care for the genuinely poor, but it need not be structured to corrupt the entire system. Food stamps haven’t wrecked the food market, why should indigent care welfare wreck the medical market?

    1. If we’re really, really lucky, we’ll get a “modern,” federally managed health insurance system that’s as efficient and cost-effective as our public school system.

      Think No Patient Left Behind.

    2. “adjusts monocle”. Rc, I always wondered what happened to you.

      http://www.1966batfan.com/Penguin.htm

    3. “adjusts monocle”. Rc, I always wondered what happened to you.

      http://www.1966batfan.com/Penguin.htm

    4. “adjusts monocle”. Rc, I always wondered what happened to you.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdQME2YYG44

  16. Republicans/conservatives can’t reconcile Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms with their Christian/altruist morality which demands self-sacrifice.

  17. Here’s my compromise plan:

    1) Abolish the FDA. But at the same time eliminate patents for pharmaceuticals, and extend malpractice to apply to Big Pharma.

    2) Abolish the VA, Medicare and Medicaid. As honorable as the vets are they don’t need a parallel system of hospitals. And see number 5 below.

    3) 100% personal tax credit for any medical expense, including insurance premiums.

    4) Across the board sunset clauses on all medical related regulations. Abolish many of them immediately. Make congress renew the remainder every four or eight years.

    5) Provide medical vouchers for the poor, permanently disabled, elderly, etc. Yes it will be expensive, but at least it doesn’t have as large of market distorting effects medicare.

    p.s. I think the biggest problem today is the third party payer system. But this is largely a result of the current tax and regulatory environment.

    1. Why can’t we simply move to a private single-payer system? It works for most of the developed world.

      1. Oxymoron. It aint private if the government is paying for it. It’s certainly a simpler system, which is why Europe seems to be doing better than our overly complex regulatory nightmare, but it’s still predicated on the idea that the government mugs the taxpayer.

        1. Actually, Germany and Switzerland primarily fund health care through premiums, not taxation. Furthermore, I would dispute your assertion that taxation is necessarily theft.

          1. Then move to Germany or Switzerland.

  18. private single-payer system

    Whaaaaat

    1. Japan, Germany and Switzerland all have privately run single-payer systems.

      1. So, monopolies are good?

  19. With this op-ed, what Pawlenty, like any number of Republican politicians before him (Paul Ryan being the notable exception), has proven once again is not that the Republican party has a strong, clear command of health care policy, but that, at least so far, it doesn’t.

    I recall the Republicans submitting an alternative health bill. I also recall Peter Suderman not reading it and only mentioning it as a waste of time. Pretty fucking weak Peter.

  20. Japan, Germany and Switzerland all have privately run single-payer systems.

    No, i’m sorry, i’m afraid you remain unaware of what “private” means.

    1. The insurers are private, the doctors are private, the hospitals are private. What part of “private” is in dispute?

      1. When I look at this I can’t help but wonder why the need for government involvement.

        Private Doctors
        Private Hospitals
        Private Insurers
        Private Patients
        Government?

        1. From what I can tell it works for three reasons. Everyone buys in, the insurers are non-profit, and costs are standardized. The market simply can’t achieve this on its own.

          1. You’re right. Markets usually reject price controls.

      2. If the government mandates you buy the product and mandates what services will be provided and to whom – it’s not “private”.

  21. What part of “private” is in dispute?

    Who’s paying for it all? Hint: if your answer involves taxes, it ain’t private.

    1. Let me get this straight. Any contractor who has ever accepted a government contract is in actuality a government employee? Their businesses aren’t privately run?

  22. Let me get this straight.

    Good luck.

    Any contractor who has ever accepted a government contract is in actuality a government employee?

    As long as they’re under contract with the government and being paid in tax money jacked from citizens, yeah, actually.

  23. Pawlenty doesn’t seem to mention anything about whether his ideas involve cuts to Medicare. As a Medicare recipient, when I did my annual enrollment at PlanPrescriber.com, I found that the cost of some Medicare Advantage plans increased in premium or copays and other plans decreased benefits. I don’t know how many more cuts older Americans can take to Medicare.

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