Saturday, July 23, 2011

Different visions of Health Care

One question that has been pretty persistently part of US public health efforts has been a fundamental disagreement about the role of government in health care. This shows up in all sorts of interesting places but has new entered the debt ceiling negotiations. From Paul Krugman:

It turns out that in the final stages of the debt negotiations, Republicans suddenly added a new demand — a trigger that would end up eliminating the individual mandate in health care reform.

This is telling, in a couple of ways.

First, the health care mandate has nothing to do with debt and deficits. So this is naked blackmail: the GOP is trying to use the threat of financial catastrophe to impose its policy vision, even in areas that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, a vision that it lacks the votes to enact through normal legislation.

Second, this is a demand Obama can’t accept, unless he plans on changing his party registration. Health reform doesn’t work without a mandate (remember the primary? Maybe better not to). And if health reform is undermined, Obama will have achieved nothing. So by adding this demand, Republicans were in effect saying no deal . . .

The alternative interpretation is that there is a large segment of the US population that would rather freedom to choose health care than efficient health care. The focus on individual decisions over public well being has implications on a whole host of medical decisions affecting issues like: disease management, fraudulent medications, antibiotic resistance and so forth.

It is hard to see a clear road forward when there is a legitimate difference in such basic questions of health care organization.

No comments:

Post a Comment