Six deal killers for national health reform

In the US debate over health care reform, there are six policies that should be opposed, says the Health Policy Consensus Group, a coalition of experts from market-oriented think tanks.

A new government-sponsored health insurance plan:

  • The government would inevitably use its regulatory, pricing and taxing authority to favour its plan.
  • A government plan could artificially under-price private plans, driving them out of this one-sided "marketplace" and leaving consumers with no coverage alternatives.

    A move to force employers to provide health insurance:
  • It's a political certainty that any new health insurance tax will be set lower than the current levels at which employers now fund coverage.
  • That would entice many to transfer their employees' insurance coverage to the mercies of the new government plan.

    A uniform, government-defined package of benefits:
  • When insurance benefits are determined politically rather than by what individuals and families want in the marketplace, the benefits package expands and costs explode.
  • Workers would pay for this more expensive coverage through lower wages, lost jobs, higher taxes and lower-value health care.

    A mandate that individuals must purchase insurance:
  • Sweeping government mandates create a conflict between escalating costs, limited resources and the false guarantee of rich coverage, often triggering price and supply controls.
  • Positive incentives can dramatically expand coverage without resorting to a mandate.
  • To make the mandate work, the government would have to impose binding penalties on individuals who don't comply.

    A National Health Insurance Exchange that extends federal regulatory powers over private insurance:
  • This would steamroll over private choice and patient preferences by providing a vehicle to extend sweeping federal regulation into virtually every corner of our health sector.
  • This would reduce choice for patients and discourage or prohibit innovation and flexibility in health insurance offerings that today are helping many companies and families balance their health costs with other needs.

    Federal interference in the practice of medicine through a federal health board, comparative effectiveness review or other government intrusions into medical decision-making:
  • The clear and present danger is that any centralised health board will use the cover of comparative effectiveness findings to meet budgetary bottom lines, at the expense of patients' medical needs and personal preferences.
  • This is a particular danger to the health of people who suffer from rare conditions or who need access to specific medicines and personalised treatments but who may lack the political power to influence the reviewers' decisions.

    Source: Press Release, Conservative Alliance Outlines 6 Deal-Killers For National Health Reform, PRNewswire-USNewswire, April 1, 2009.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 07 April 2009
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