Today’s health care reform point of shame: a plethora of new government programs. To the saying “nothing in life is certain but death and taxes” I add a third point: government programs. Once a program is in place, it’s there forever… so with that, I’d like to point you to the 111 new government programs that will be created by Speaker Pelosi’s health care proposal. Identified by the Republican Policy Committee, it’s quite a doozy.

Some highlights:

  • A grant program for community-based overweight and obesity prevention
  • A grant program to promote positive health behaviors in underserved communities
  • An Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee
  • A grant program for national health workforce online training

To give them the benefit of the doubt, these very well might be worthwhile programs. However, they are not necessarily the province of the federal government (correct me if I’m wrong, but was a “pain research coordinating committee” authorized in the Constitution?) States and local governments, being closer to their residents and more sensitive to their communities’ needs, should have the prerogative to create or facilitate such programs, but these overreaching, one-size-fits-all solutions should not come from Washington, particularly at a time when the country can least afford them!

77 percent of respondents in IWF’s recent poll on women’s attitudes towards health care think the government spends money in a mostly inefficient manner… so maybe some people might not want their tax dollars going to such programs (which are almost certain to be filled with waste and fraud) and would rather not pay higher taxes, fees, and health insurance premiums?

Unfortunately, government “grant” programs give the government a huge amount of power in deciding who the recipients are – and when people are vying for “free” money, incentive structures and behaviors shift accordingly. Rather than messing with the market even further, the government should leave well enough alone and let people keep their money – so they can pay for diet counseling themselves if they’d like, or seek workforce training, or buy pain medication, or anything else. To really help their constituents, Congress should allow people to spend their own money as they see fit.