health care

Republicans Still Have No Idea How To Talk About Health Care

Even when they have a good idea, the argument gets muddled.

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No policy issue has vexed the modern Republican Party more than health care. Over the last decade, the GOP has decried the passage of Obamacare, a health care law based on a plan developed by a conservative think tank and first implemented by a Republican governor; it has attempted to repeal that law and replace it with legislation that many top party officials struggle to explain; and it elected Donald Trump, a man who in his first presidential run praised single-payer health care and whose administration is currently backing a dubious legal challenge to Obamacare even while promising to preserve many of the regulations that challenge would overturn. The party frequently criticizes government-run health care even as Trump has repeatedly promised to preserve and protect Medicare, the nation's largest and most expensive government-financed health care program. 

The Republican health care agenda is thus not so much a plan as a series of empty buzzwords and phrases—"patient-centered," "preserving the doctor patient relationship," "health care choice"—that do little to describe a coherent set of principles or policy mechanisms. Trump's personal incoherence has further muddled the issue for a party already grasping for direction. 

Even where the party has clear ideas that would advance the interests of individual patients, those ideas are often expressed in such a garbled and disjointed manner that it is difficult to be sure what they are. Take Natalie Harp's disjointed speech last night at the Republican National Convention. Harp, a cancer patient and member of Trump's 2020 campaign advisory board, introduced herself as "a formerly forgotten American." After reading and watching her speech several times, I am reasonably confident that it was intended as an argument for medical legislation known as "right to try." 

It would hardly be surprising to find someone making that case for right-to-try laws in the midst of a Trump-centric GOP convention. One of the most consistent and positive aspects of Trump's health care agenda has been his support for these laws, which give terminally ill patients the option to choose potentially life-saving treatments that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

In 2018, Trump signed a law expanding the rights of individuals with terminal illnesses to access drugs that have passed the first stage of clinical trials but not passed complete FDA review. Although the direct impact of federal right-to-try appears to have been limited, it established an important principle: The dying have a right to make crucial decisions about their lives and bodies for themselves. Since then, Trump has repeatedly touted the law in speeches and events, advertising it as a way he has helped expand health care choices for individuals. 

Yet Harp's scattered remarks only briefly touched on the idea behind right to try, thanking Trump for giving her "the right to experimental treatments" and for preserving her "right to try, just like Charlie Gard, that terminally ill British baby, whose government-run health care system decided it was too expensive and too cruel to keep him alive."

Instead of focusing on the potential benefits of Trump's law, Harp offered some token culture-war jabs at Democrats, who she said "love to talk about health care being a human right, but a right to what? Well, I'll tell you. To them, it's a right to marijuana, opioids, and the right to 'die with dignity'—a politically correct way of saying 'assisted suicide.'" And she closed with a rambling ode to Trump's health policy acumen, starting with the coronavirus: Without Trump, she said, "in January, there would have been no China travel ban. Millions would have died, and millions more would have been infected, while there would be no fast-track approval process for a vaccine." Without Trump, she said, drugs would be more expensive and there would be no price transparency. Meanwhile "in Joe Biden's America, China would control our drug production." 

Harp's speech was not a case for right to try so much as a loose constellation of Trump-friendly assertions about federal health policy. Some of these assertions were exaggerated (it is unlikely that "millions" would have died without Trump's China travel restrictions). Others lacked context (Trump's price transparency rules have been mired in legal challenges and don't account for some of the deeper complexities of medical billing, limiting their benefits). Others were speculative counterfactuals based on little or no demonstrated evidence (it's hard to believe that without Trump, China would control drug production and there would be no attempt to accelerate vaccine development). And despite slagging marijuana and opioids, Harp is reported to have experimented with both herself. Even if they proved ineffective for her, it is odd to see someone simultaneously tout the legal expansion of individual health care choices and complain about legal expansions of individual treatments. 

Harp did not even specifically mention Trump's 2018 law or attempt to describe the substance of what it does. (Hence my initial uncertainty about the precise topic of her speech.) That may be because there is scant evidence that she actually benefited from it. 

Although she has credited Trump's right-to-try law for her personal medical successes in the past, a Washington Post piece last year found little evidence to support her claim. Instead, according to her own written account, she received "an FDA-approved immunotherapy drug for an unapproved use." Off-label use of already-approved drugs was legal before the federal right-to-try law passed. It is possible that Harp benefited from Trump's right-to-try law in some other way, or that the account is somehow incomplete. But it is hard to know based on the information available, and last night's speech provided no additional details. The Post article says Harp did not respond to repeated questions about her treatment. 

Harp's speech is thus a perfect illustration of the right's muddled thinking on health care in the Trump era, where even good ideas are often packaged poorly. The right to try is good legislation based on a humane principle: Individuals should have the right to determine their own medical fates, free of government intervention. But that legislation, and the idea behind it, deserve a better, clearer defense than the GOP seems capable of mustering. 

NEXT: University of Colorado Does the Right Thing

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  1. Republicans have better chicks in red dresses.

    >>first implemented by a Republican governor

    Romney? lol dude ya he’s first ballot (R) Hall of Fame

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  2. Suderman….seriously? PPACA was never, ever about healthcare outcomes. It was always about healthcare financing. It has been 10 years and you still don’t get that point. What are you, a moron?

    How about you do something constructive like, I don’t know, maybe talk to the Libertarian candidate for POTUS and get her thoughts on what a libertarian solution to healthcare financing looks like.

    1. Without bothering to rtfa, I question the premise that health care needs to be a policy or plan or whatever by a political party.

      “Here’s my plan” are the worst words a candidate may utter.

      1. I didn’t mean that as a reply to someone. Oh well.

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      2. Indeed. Always nice to see a LIBERTARIAN site demanding a policy besides “The government shouldn’t be doing this ANYWAY”

      3. Jo said it was important for government to touch Healthcare. So here we are.

        1. When? Do you have a link?

          1. Her actual words, in case anyone cares (emphasis mine):

            Health care is urgent—literally life or death. If we don’t stop the path to single payer, it’s going to be disastrous for the country. It’s the most frustrating thing that [many Americans blame our health care issues on a failure] of free markets. I want to shout from the rooftops that we do not have a free market system in health care and how if we tried free markets, they would work.

            https://reason.com/2020/08/24/jo-jorgensen-is-the-2020-libertarian-party-presidential-nominee/

            Seems like the exact opposite of her wanting “government to touch healthcare.”

            1. I did not find her saying anything like that either, in a very brief look. Maybe it was a yet another ill-advised tweet, or something off the cuff?

              1. Most likely an unsupported claim in order for Jesse to convince himself that Trump is the most libertarian candidate running.

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            2. Thank you for tracking down what she actually said.

            3. Nice to see you again Leo.

              Yup she said all that. Trumpies here. Those who post all day to try and drown out libertarians, For some time I thought if you just ignored them they would go away. I was wrong.

            4. so we are ignoring the first part? That’s good. No right has ever been determined by emotional pleas as something being life or death.

              Nowhere in her statement does she deny government funding to a free market. There is no way to subsume her first sentence with a pure untouched free market.

              Sorry logic eludes you.

              1. Nowhere in her statement does she deny government funding to a free market.

                LOL.

                Nowhere in her statement does she deny that aliens exist either.

      4. If I said that, my plan would be a phased extrication of government from medical care.

  3. “The Republican health care agenda is thus not so much a plan”

    Libertarians for far reaching government plans!

  4. Thank Mr. Suderman for pointing out that the ACA has deep conservative roots. The Republicans can not find an alternative to the ACA because its is a market based system from the start. The logical way to approach the ACA is not to repeal it but to make the case that you can better implement it without resorting to more government control.
    As for medical marijuana, right to try and right to die, I support them all, but don’t really trust the Republicans on any of these ideas.

    1. “The Republicans can not find an alternative to the ACA because its is a market based system from the start.”

      Nothing says “market-based” like penalties for not purchasing something. Because the market cannot POSSIBLY say “No, not interested”.

      “The logical way to approach the ACA is not to repeal it but to make the case that you can better implement it without resorting to more government control.”

      …which is only doable by an outright repealing of it.

      1. Nothing says “market based” like dictating strict requirements for the exact coverage people must buy.

        Are you a man and don’t need to pay for insurance for childbirth? The ACA says FU.
        Are you sane and don’t need to pay for mental health coverage? The ACA says FU.
        Are you 19 years old and healthy and don’t think you should pay the same as someone older and sicker? The ACA says FU.

        1. Your saying that being a woman is a preexisting condition and insurance companies can charge extra because a woman is a woman. Mental health and physical health are the same and both need to be addressed. You are in a car accident and break a leg, the doctor sets and casts the leg. You anxious to get back in the car after an accident, you may(or may not) need to talk to someone like a therapist. As for age, if you read the original conservative ideas for the health care mandate, the authors point out that most people can not afford health insurance if they want to buy it at a time in their life when they actually need it. The 19 year old can look at it like I am paying for the health care of the old person. The 19 year old can look at it like they are building equity in a program for when they get to a point where they need it.

          1. “insurance companies can charge extra because a woman is a woman. has extra costs”

            This is how we know you know your argument is a loser.

            1. He’s only here and lying because its his job.

          2. Your plans for how everyone must live their lives and make their choices are soooooo “market based”.

            Your scheme to have men subsidize others’ childbirth when buying health insurance for themselves is so amazingly “market based”.

            Stop being dishonest.

          3. Yes. Why the fuck should I be forced to lay for a menu of services I can’t use? This is the problem. You forcing me to lay for shit I may not want and some things I can possibly use.

            All this without one shred of constitutional authority to do so.

      2. “Nothing says “market-based” like penalties for not purchasing something. Because the market cannot POSSIBLY say “No, not interested”.”

        The market can say “”not interested” to any, individual vendor, which is the very mechanism which pushes the market system toward efficiency. If everybody has to buy something that you sell, but the dude next door also sells a better version of it for cheaper, you’re f*cked. There are _already_ sectors where almost everybody has to buy (food, housing, gasoline), and these are some of the most-competitive markets.

        The situations where the buyer _cannot_ say “not interested” are with _monopolies_, which has less to do with the number of people who must buy and more about the number of options the buyer has to choose from (which the ACA tries to provide a viable number of via exchanges).

    2. It doesn’t have deep conservative roots. Romney is a neocon who acted much like a blue dog Democrat. Think Jennifer Rubin as a politician.

      Heritage advocated for high deductible, catastrophic plans, the types aca essentially calls non compliant.

      I know democrats have to lie about this to seem less authoritarian. But this shot is well known.

      1. Sorry you are wrong and the paper trail is there to prove it.

        1. Convincing.

        2. Massachusetts — home of Ted Kennedy and Elizabeth Warren, a state that hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since the Reagan landslide of ’84, a state in which Hillary Clinton won every single county four years ago — does not elect conservative governors.

    3. I too support the right to die for every and all socialists

      1. Let’s monetize that. I favor a system where we sel the organs of our socialists to pay reperations to real Americans for all the evil things they’ve done. This should be a win-win for them, as they favor forced medical procedures and reparations.

    4. Exactly. It’s “market-based.”

      And what does “market-based” mean?

      Nothing.

      One might as well refer to an airplane as “gravity-based”. Because it interacts with gravity! Does that mean anything? Is it possible to have a plane that’s NOT gravity-based? Of course not!

      So why would we ever refer to a plane as “gravity-based”? To mislead our audience, of course.

      It is impossible for a human interaction to not be “market-based”. I put a gun to your head and demand your wallet, and you have a choice to make. Does that mean that calling something “market-based” makes it right-wing?

      Not even a little bit.

      The Right believes in the FREE market. That adjective – free – isn’t just a meaningless decoration. It means that we have property rights. It means that the government doesn’t put its finger on the scale.

      It means that there’s no penalty for refusing to buy.

      Obama, liar that he is, slathered his rhetoric with the phrase “market-based” to promote the lie that his reforms were right-leaning, and the right-leaning people who opposed them were hypocrites. But “market-based” says nothing about a policy’s relationship with the FREE market, which is what is actually right-wing.

    5. “Thank Mr. Suderman for pointing out that the ACA has deep conservative roots”

      Hitting the medical marijuana a little early today? “Market-based system,” LOL.

      Next, you’ll tell me about the free market joys of cap and trade…

      1. He misspelled ‘command economy based system’.

  5. Why should they? Your health care is your business, not the government’s.

    But too many people are greedy for what someone else has and too many dishonest people keep telling everyone they can magically get it for less than zero dollars.

    What’s the right way to talk to greedy people who believe in fantasy? Be dishonest like Democrats? Be truthful and get burned at the stake for heresy? It’s a difficult question with no good answers. Unsurprisingly, Republicans have no good answers.

    1. ^EXACTLY! Funny that the words “Health-care” in today’s politics always means “money distribution” and generally never means one iota of meaning in actual healthcare legislation ( short of repealing FDA regulation. )

  6. libertarians are the only ones who even come close to being “right” about what national healthcare and health insurance policy should be.

  7. “In 2018, Trump signed a law expanding the rights of individuals with terminal illnesses to access drugs that have passed the first stage of clinical trials but not passed complete FDA review. Although the direct impact of federal right-to-try appears to have been limited, it established an important principle: The dying have a right to make crucial decisions about their lives and bodies for themselves.”

    No.

    The patient’s human rights to live how they choose without needing government permission were established by the Declaration of Independence and cemented with the 10th amendment.

    The issue here is the Federal government acting WAY outside its boundaries and needing to be dramatically curtailed to the point where it has no say whatsoever in the life of the average citizen.

    1. ^THIS. 100x this

  8. Republicans have no idea how to talk about healthcare because they’re stuck on the tiny little problem of how to pay for it. The Democrats have lots of ideas about health care, all of which ignore the question of how to pay for it. It’s an insoluble problem, how to provide all the healthcare everybody wants at a cost they can afford. It’s the same problem you have whenever you try to figure out how to provide free lunches.

    1. “figure out how to provide free lunches”

      Just do what my state’s schools do and apply for federal grants, duh. Federal grants could pay for health care; what’s so complicated about that? Stop trying to confuse us with figures and Reaganomics and austerity to cover for the fact that you just hate poor people and want to see food-insecure children worry about maybe becoming hungry while their parents are forced to use flip-phones and old people have to stretch their price-gouged meds with dog food.

      1. Free lunch programs were established primarily so that government busy bodies could claim economic theories are wrong. There is, after all, such a thing as long as your perspective is that it’s free as long as someone else is paying.

    2. The problem isn’t “how to pay for” healthcare (though there are limits to our resources and we can only dedicate so much of them to health care), the problem is how to get back to a free market, after the government destroyed the free market in both health care and health insurance.

      It used to be, people bought AND MAINTAINED insurance to cover expensive medical treatments in case they needed them in the future including the high costs of some chronic conditions. Now it seems everyone is against denying insurance for pre-existing conditions, which makes as much sense as allowing people to buy fire insurance for a fire that happened yesterday. At this point, implementing a free market harms people who’ve acted responsibly but had government rule illegal their insurance plans that had low premiums (because they purchased them when they were young and healthy) are illegal because they exclude people with pre-existing conditions.

  9. Is this news to anyone that the Republicans are not a party of ideas?

    They haven’t been for some time. They are a party of NO and of opposing anything the Democrats are for. That’s it. That’s the sum total of their policies.

    They don’t want to “fix” healthcare any more than they want to fix anything else. They simply want to smash and grab what they can and bail. If we didn’t have so many morons in this country, we wouldn’t be so confused by it every single time they get put in power.

    1. Nixon wanted universal healthcare, Ted Kennedy said no.

      1. That was about 50 years ago.

    2. Progressives.

      Give me your money so I can tell you how to live your life or I will send the cops to shoot your dog.

      Libertarians.

      No.

      Works for me. 😉

    3. I think it’s adorable that you think that the Democrats actually want to fix anything either. They all just want power and control. By all means, keep voting to be further enslaved because you think it will get you something for $0. What they want from you isn’t measured in dollars, it’s measured in obedience and boot licks.

      1. I didn’t see one word in what he wrote saying that.

    4. Your party has so many great ideas that instead of nomination any one of a diverse group of people seeking the de ocrat nomination, you choose a lifelong politician who never really did anything in his whole career, except champion Amtrak, which is a gigantic fiscal disaster, and advocate for a constitutional amendment to keep little black boys and girls from attending school with little white boys and girls.

      Yes, you’re the party of ideas. Communist ideas. Failed ideas. Tyrannical ideas.

      In context, being the party of ‘no’ just makes good sense.

  10. It would be nice to tell the truth after all. Medicare for All is too expensive, your care will be for shit, and you’ll die earlier than your grandparents did most likely.

    But say that and the fucking democrats make it seem like you’re evil. So why say it? Who fucking cares, give the shitheads what they want and watch them wallow in it.

    1. Many Dems believe in fantasy less than zero dollars overhaul of US healthcare.

      Some other country has it cheaper so just send out agents to murder and torture everyone until everyone agrees to do it the European way because we don’t want to be murdered and tortured any more. Viola! Cheaper health care.

    2. Medicare for all is a slogan, but it would be an inadequate scheme. Most people with Medicare buy supplemental insurance.

      If you don’t like Medicare, however, how dare you sit idly by while millions of old people suffer under its tyrannical yoke? Campaign on throwing them to the free market too and see how it sells.

      1. Of course it won’t sell. It’s a Ponzi scheme. If you ask the elderly if they want to be on the end that gets a generous payout or the end that gets completely and utterly fucked, it’s a no brainer. That’s how the scheme works. Offer something that is too good to be true that can be paid out to the top, and bring in more and more saps until the well runs dry and the game is up. Social security and large numbers of state and federal pensions all fall under this. Once it’s started it can’t be stopped until it collapses. It’s popularity is offered as evidence of it’s effectiveness. People like something for nothing? Who knew?

        The fact that progressivism (as both R’s and D’s endorse) continues to pitch more and more Ponzi schemes as solutions to any and all problems (MMT anyone?) as the existing ones collapse around them is among the more sociopathic of their tenancies. And this is the same political class that knowingly lied us into 20 straight years of killing Muslims for no good reason.

        What can you really expect? Despite the rhetoric of the political class, their survival and self-enrichment at the expense of hundreds of millions of other individuals is the only thing they have ever known. The only way to escape it is to change their incentives and to create and enforce punishments for destructive behavior. If only there was a class of people that spent all their time creating rules for society that prevented harmful, dishonest and exploitative behavior and vigorously enforcing them using men with guns…….

      2. A lot of your masters want to make private insurance illegal.

  11. OK and maybe republicans don’t want to ‘fix’ healthcare because most people are happy with their plans and don’t want government messing with them. So that’s what she was saying and she succeeded.

    Ultimately the solution to reduce costs is to deregulate and let the free market increase quality while driving down costs. The biggest program is medicare, and it must be abolished. To do this, young people (who will never see a penny from this program) must beg their grandparents to vote against the program (while still benefiting from it). In return the family promises to care for their elderly. The alternative is that this program bankrupts the country. Elderly will be forced to make a stark choice. But they are the richest generation in history and can afford to care for themselves and their needy neighbors. The alternative is that young Americans will be denied care and will be left dying in the streets by the millions.

    1. “To do this, young people (who will never see a penny from this program) must beg their grandparents to vote against the program (while still benefiting from it). In return the family promises to care for their elderly. The alternative is that this program bankrupts the country. Elderly will be forced to make a stark choice. But they are the richest generation in history and can afford to care for themselves and their needy neighbors. The alternative is that young Americans will be denied care and will be left dying in the streets by the millions.”

      Heinlein wrote on this a little, but the TL;DR version is, ‘The elderly don’t give a shit.’ ‘Fuck you, I’m getting mine and I don’t care if it runs out after I’m gone’, characterizes the attitudes of the old when asked to sacrifice civically for the young. And he wrote that in something like 1946.

      They ain’t sacrificing, and they ain’t paying for their last ten years or so of medical care. And since we run things by who has the most votes, and their bran muffin of a generation is still demographically squeezing itself out of the body politic, what they want goes.

    2. My insurance was fine before 2014. Then they implemented the ACA and I lost my plan. The best possible plan I could buy after that was inferior in several ways and cost over twice as much.

      Although now there are more free healthcare options for illegals.

  12. Republicans have no idea how to talk about healthcare because they don’t want more government in healthcare but they don’t want to get the government out of healthcare, so they’re stuck defending the status quo. Really bad strategy on their part. Democrats are winning on this issue precisely because they have so much faith in their solution of having the government completely control healthcare that it sounds like they know what they’re talking about, meanwhile the best the Republicans can come up with is that it’s not so bad right now and the Democrats will make it worse.

    If it was about good policy, then getting government (especially the federal government) out of healthcare would be enough, but Republicans aren’t doing much on that front. If we just want good rhetoric, then they should take something, anything (or everything and package it up with a catchy slogan), and pretend that that would be the solution to all our health care woes, the same way that Democrats religiously evangelize “Medicare for all”. That’s the reason Republicans were so successful running on repealing Obamacare: it was an easy to understand plan that would fix everything wrong with the current state of our health care sector.

    1. First I don’t buy that Republicans don’t want government in health care. There are plenty of Republicans that are happily on Medicare, there are Republicans in military that get government health care, Federal employee who are Republicans and Congress members happy to have Federal health insurance.
      Republican’s problem is that they view health care as a commodity where you are entitled to the amount you can pay for. They don’t want to argue that healthcare will not be provided based on need, but rather on wealth. We all understand the idea of cars being a commodity and we accept that some will have Mercedes, some Hondas and others a used Dodge. It would be harder to understand that a kid dies of a cancer because his parents can not afford the treatment.

      1. “There are plenty of Republicans that are happily on Medicare“

        How do you know? As opposed to what?

        “there are Republicans in military that get government health care“

        The VA? I wouldn’t pull too hard on that thread.

        “Federal employee who are Republicans and Congress members happy to have Federal health insurance.”

        Which is REALLY expensive and in no way an option for the masses.

        “Republican’s problem is that they view health care as a commodity where you are entitled to the amount you can pay for. They don’t want to argue that healthcare will not be provided based on need, but rather on wealth”

        It is a commodity, and not the business of the federal government to provide it. Unless you can pass a constitutional amendment saying otherwise.

        “It would be harder to understand that a kid dies of a cancer because his parents can not afford the treatment.”

        Oh really? You do know that the survival rate for things like cancer are substantially lower in places like Canada and Europe, right? Do you also understand that under ‘The Complete Lives System’, which is the basis for the ACA, and written by Dr Ezekiel Emmanuel, that a younger child is not prioritizied.

        1. Most people are happy to get Medicare, some are very happy and about half of those are Republicans. Medicare significantly lowers your cost and most people are happy with that.
          The military include both active duty soldiers and retired. Government provide both Tricare and the VA.
          My argument is not with the view of health care as a commodity it is with Republicans who refuse to argue that point. They instead suggest that free market healthcare will produce so much health care we will all have as much as we want.
          It is interesting that Republicans are willing to argue for wealth inequities, suggesting that the poorest person in America is better off than a poor person in other countries, but not willing to argue health care inequities. That a poor person in the US has better health care than other parts of the world. Why will they not make that argument.

          1. You just regurgitated what you said before. You addressed none of my points and insist all these things are great.

  13. Oh the consternation that universal healthcare is now a concretely established right in the entire civilized world (not here) yet can’t possibly comport with libertarian philosophy, which, no two ways about it, requires people to forego healthcare they can’t afford. Just pretend like it’s a war machine killing brown people for oil companies and you’ll find a way to fit it in, I’m sure.

    1. “…universal healthcare is now a concretely established right in the entire civilized world…”

      Singapore and Switzerland (among other “civilized” countries) would like to have a word with you.

    2. The high cost of healthcare couldn’t possibly have aaanything to do with government. There are still markets in healthcare, medical insurance, and pharmaceuticals. And according to politicians, all markets are free markets. So obviously what we need is more federal bureaucratic control.

    3. So if a doctor refuses to serve you because you couldn’t pay him…he’s violating your rights?

      1. Depends on what rights I have.

    4. If designating something a right creates a system that worsens outcomes, then anyone who truly believes it to be a right would never support acknowledging it as such.

      1. Blah blah blah stop denying me a functioning modern society because you believe children’s book are true.

        1. Are you suggesting the Enlightenment philosophers and their writings about the concept of natural rights are children’s books?

    5. Oh the consternation that universal healthcare is now a concretely established right in the entire civilized world

      Sure, “universal healthcare” in the sense of essential medicine and services; not “universal healthcare” in the sense of “cost is no object”.

      yet can’t possibly comport with libertarian philosophy, which, no two ways about it,

      Essential healthcare is so cheap and Americans are so rich that it just isn’t an issue.

      Just pretend like it’s a war machine killing brown people for oil companies and you’ll find a way to fit it in, I’m sure.

      I agree: we should impose price controls on big pharma, eliminate medical malpractice lawsuits, nationalize hospitals, limit healthcare to essential services, and make all doctors government employees at half their current salaries. We can pay for all of that out of the existing Medicare budget. That’s what (some) other civilized nations do. It’s what democratic socialist countries do. Given that Democrats won’t budget on free market reforms, it’s the only option left. So, let’s do it. Unfortunately, the Democrats object to that as well.

    6. The rest of the world isn’t that civilized.

    7. Tony, healthcare is a service provided through the labor of others. You claim to have a right to this labor. Which is slavery. Not shocking that a progressive would feel entitled to the labor of another man.

    8. The “libertarian philosophy, which, no two ways about it, requires people to forego healthcare they can’t afford” recognizes limits to our resources. If you want something (And S*lord of Woodchippers already essentially said it), it’s immoral to put demands on others for your benefit, making slaves of others, to get it.
      That goes with the price of obtaining a beating heart for a needed heart transplant, which it appears you can obtain in China, from a Uyghur, for the right price paid to a Chinese prison bureaucrat. You see, it’s a libertarian principle, we don’t harm others who’ve not harmed us. Meanwhile progressives make rationalizations as to why this is all fine and dandy. Where do progressives draw the line regarding when it’s not OK to harm others in one way or another for health care? Is it OK to harvest one kidney from a criminal convicted of say disparaging the great leader?

      Libertarians take the position you shouldn’t initiate harm upon others.

  14. Price controls for doctors: that’s violence.
    Forcing people to provide goods and services against their will: violence.

    1. Price controls for doctors: that’s violence. Forcing people to provide goods and services against their will: violence.

      Doctors are in large part responsible for this mess: they have created a monopoly, are keeping low cost solutions out of the market, and support progressives.

      Since a free market in healthcare isn’t in the cards, I think we should take Democrats at their word and, in fact, “adopt a system like the UK”: nationalize not just health insurance but also healthcare providers; make sure that the average doctor is a government employee who gets paid maybe $150k/year, is required to comply with all government regulations, and has no say in how, where, or to whom to provide healthcare.

      1. Doctors aren’t the problem. Progressives are the problem. Their regulations and taxes have created this mess.

      2. “Since a free market in healthcare isn’t in the cards, I think we should take Democrats at their word and, in fact, “adopt a system like the UK…”

        I agree with you.

  15. The problem is not so much that Rs (or Ls for that matter) don’t have a policy; it’s that the policy involves not having government involved in healthcare, which is an unpopular idea. That’s probably why they’re skirting the subject and lack focus when it comes to dismantling the administrative state.

    Government is the only thing on this planet that is harder for humans to destroy than to create.

    1. The idea of less government always looks better in the abstract. It is much harder when you actually have to cut programs.

    2. The Republicans may be for getting the government out of healthcare for people below retirement age. Hard to tell as they don’t seem to be able to come up with a policy proposal or plan for doing so.

      Republicans are adamantly for keeping government involvement in healthcare for retirees.

    3. Excellent point, and my thinking as well. The way I see it, government broke the free market in both health care and health insurance. Going back to the way it was (you bought health insurance when you were young and maintained it, then your premiums would remain low even if you got an expensive and potentially ongoing medical condition) means people who were responsible, maintained their insurance, and got an expensive chronic medical condition will now be facing high medical bills. Or they are simply older meaning they’ll need to pay more than younger people on average.

      Denying people insurance for pre-existing medical conditions is unpopular as a result, plus the irresponsible people don’t want to be denied insurance for the fire that happened yesterday either. So yeah, it’s popular.

      Consider this:

      “Harp’s speech is thus a perfect illustration of the right’s muddled thinking on health care in the Trump era, where even good ideas are often packaged poorly.”

      I could say in a similar fashion:
      Sullum’s article is a perfect illustration of focusing on muddled GOP talking points for a government created problem with no good solution, instead of focusing on the major wins for the libertarian minded that Trump has brought to health care (yes, the Right to Try Act is very libertarian, and something for which this magazine has advocated for in the past. Sullum might have suggested a libertarian solution to these government broken markets, but didn’t, making his focus on the GOP’s mixed up approach all criticism with nothing better to offer.

      I’m glad Sullum wrote “One of the most consistent and positive aspects of Trump’s health care agenda has been his support for these laws”. Not because it’s true, but because it shows Sullum is getting over his TDS. Though it came in an article criticizing how the GOP talks about healthcare, rather than an article about health care policy, so there is still some anti-Trump (GOP?) TDS there. So what would a libertarian health care transition policy be?

  16. No surprise. We do not have health care in this country. We have a disease management system controlled by Big Pharma and the medical mafia. This year, Big Pharma has paid off Congress to the tune of $11 million so far. Hundreds of bribes have been paid by the major pharmaceutical companies for favors…including the passage of bills that will make vaccines all but mandatory. The Repubs are dense anyway so how can they talk about a system so corrupt that it makes the Mexican drug cartels look like religious sects? The DC Swamp is so diseased that no vaccine would ever fix it.

    1. The thing that always gets me about buying off politicians is how cheap they can be bought. If that $11 million figure is correct, that’s a minuscule number compared to big pharma bucks.

      1. Yeah, politicians sell us out for pennies on the dollar, but it’s immoral regardless how much they get.

        IMHO, Big Pharma doesn’t invest mostly in campaign cash: they mostly invest in doctors who do research, doctors who prescribe their drugs, and people in the regulatory agencies. These “investments” are done via research grants (e.g., some research on HCQ given to people near death to disparage HCQ in preference to something they can make money from), speaking fees (especially those at the top in the regulatory agencies), and free samples, dinners and conferences for prescribing doctors. We even had a similar “fake” studies disparaging HCQ that the Lancet had to withdraw after the data appeared to be made up. Which is unfortunate, in that countries that mostly used HCQ had lower rates of death.

  17. Destroying a free market (in insurance or anything else) takes the stroke of a presidential pen; rebuilding it takes decades of hard work and is only possible when investors have confidence that the next administration isn’t just going to undo their work again.

    As long as progressives have any significant of chance of winning and passing progressive legislation, Republicans and libertarians are powerless to restore free markets, in healthcare or anything else.

  18. Once again for the who knows how manyth time in the last four years, bozo says something nonsensical and the world has to react to it in a way other than marking it down as another nonsense idea that makes no sense.
    Americans have the right to try and always have. What this appears to be discussing is government regulation that will control what people can try and short circuit the inevitable lawsuits which will ultimately follow.
    Every heard of alternative medicine? That’s right to try. You want to drink herbal tea instead of taking some experimental drug, go ahead.
    This program would just create profits for drug companies by allowing them to introduce products with no proven results.
    Might some of these products work for some people, sure. Might they kill some people or make some people more sick sure they might. Sure. What to try some of these things, move somewhere near a hospital that is taking volunteers who sign disclaimers and sign yourself up as a guinea pig. No regulation needed.
    More nonsense created by bozo.

  19. Everyone seems frightened of a principle that stands clear in our constitutional republic. Medical care is not the business of government. Further, in spite of that important principle, over the past 50 years, nobody has ever been denied medical care.

    The problem seems to be a behavioral one. People who cannot afford medical care, whether or not they have insurance, are too embarrassed to seek it and confess that they must pay for it over time — sometimes a lifetime.

    To save these poor souls from the shame that comes with inadequate funds, democrats have created entitlements, e.g., medicaid, medicare and most recently, obamacare. To get these entitlements, one must vote for the democrats. They’re all blowing up right now and nobody is sufficiently bold to say the emperor has no clothes.

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  23. Simple, the Republican position regarding healthcare is “pay for it yourself, and if you can’t afford it, you should have worked harder.” This isn’t the most politically expedient message. Therefore, Repubs will waffle and muddy up the water every time because they don’t have a way to say the above in a politically acceptable manner. This will continue to occur for Repubs until universal healthcare is passed and Repubs and simply resign themselves to complaining about universal healthcare with complete safety in knowing that it will never go away and therefore, not require Repubs to provide any solutions.

    1. I think you have said it well.

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  25. a health care law based on a plan developed by a conservative think tank and first implemented by a Republican governor;

    I see Suderman’s regurgitating left wing political propaganda now.

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  27. If you think the Republican vision for healthcare is a hard sell, try selling the libertarian one.

  28. A lot of your masters want to make private insurance illegal.

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  30. Why should anyone in the government be talking about healthcare? It is a service to be purchased, nothing more. They should have zero influence other than a legal system should a dispute arise with me and my health insurer over the contract terms.

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