This week President Obama delivered remarks at an AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic. When it came to the topic of health care, Obama complained that opponents of his health care overhaul have failed to offer any tangible alternatives to the public option:
“But I’ve got — I’ve got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we’re going to pull the plug on Grandma and this is all about illegal immigrants — you’ve heard all the lies. I’ve got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? (Applause.) What’s your answer? (Applause.) What’s your solution? (Applause.) And you know what? They don’t have one. (Applause.) Their answer is to do nothing. Their answer is to do nothing.”
Mr. President, I respectfully disagree.
Plenty of alternatives to government-run health care, individual mandates, and co-ops have been presented (by this organization and others), but it doesn’t seem like anyone at the White House is listening. As I wrote earlier this summer:
“The government has a role to play in reforming our health care system, but it is not in replacing our current structure with a government-run program. Instead government ought to empower consumers in order to make price relevant again. This is the best way to spur competition, reduce costs and ultimately improve care.
And policymakers have plenty of reforms to consider. For starters, Washington can move the current tax deduction for health insurance from employers to individuals, in order to encourage greater – rather than less – patient involvement in their choice of care. They can promote the expansion of health savings accounts, and allow the sale of health insurance across state lines.”
But there’s more that can be done to bring down health care costs. What about serious medical malpractice reform? Or, allowing people to purchase health insurance over state lines?
And, let’s be clear, there are endless solutions out there aimed at bringing down costs, increasing efficiency, and ultimately improving health care. Consider the lead article in this past Sunday’s Outlook section of the Washington Post, in which one doctor offers 10 solutions to reforming our health care system. Or, what about columnist (and physician) Charles Krauthammer who writes continuously about health care and offers up real solutions? Or, what about all the ideas being presented by scholars at think tanks around the country, like the Cato Institute, where they host forums, write papers and make the rounds on national TV to discuss alternatives?
Mr. President, it’s not that our answer is “to do nothing.” We just want to keep the government out of the business of health care. Perhaps it’s the White House and the Democrats in Congress who ought to start listening.