January 30 2012
How Far is it from School Choice to Health Care Choice?
Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event sponsored by the Alliance for School Choice that highlighted the successes of the school choice movement in 2011. The year has been nicknamed "The Year of School Choice" because so many states passed legislation to create or expand educational vouchers, tax-credits, or even savings accounts.
Americans are excited about restoring individual choice and competition to the educational system. This should be a red flag in health care policy. We should maintain and expand individual choice, and avoid moving in the wrong direction of over-centralizing, over-standardizing, and over-regulating health care (cough, ObamaCare).
So my question is this: How can some policymakers tout the benefits of market-based reforms in education, yet are seemingly blind to the need for market-based health care reform?
In education, the results are pretty astounding. States and localities with school choice programs have seen improved academic achievement, graduation rates, and parental satisfaction. And - the cherry on top - public schools most likely to lose students to school choice programs actually improved too, because competition in the marketplace raised the standard for all schools.
School choice has some unlikely allies. The idea that individuals and families should get to choose their own school is one based in conservative, free-market principles. But some liberals are supportive of school choice too:
In Congress, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) supported the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, which passed with bipartisan support. And Daniel Lipinski, a Democrat from Chicago's south side, is an outspoken advocate for school choice.
Elizabeth Warren is a closet school-choice supporter.
The Florida Tax credit Scholarship and the Mckay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities enjoy strong bipartisan support.
Georgia's corporate and individual scholarship tax credit program was a bipartisan piece of legisation.
North Carolina's $6,000 tax credit for families who send children with special needs to private schools passed with the support of 65 percent of Democrats in the legislature.
Oklahoma's $3.5 million means-tested corporate and individual scholarship tax credit program passed with bipartisan support.
And there are many other examples!
These same Democrats who've voted for school choice should become advocates for health care freedom. As soon as they admit that competition and individual choice are the most efficient, most beneficial forces in the educational marketplace, they must realize that the same approach to health policy will keep our health care system prosperous and free. Any liberal school-choice supporter should face the fact that ObamaCare takes health care in the wrong direction and will deny Americans the diverse array of individualized health care options that they could otherwise find in a freer market.
Let's make 2012 the "Year of Health Care Choice."