Charles Krauthammer: Throw Out Both the House and Senate Healthcare Reform Bills

Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wants to toss both the House of Representatives’ and Senate’s healthcare reform bills and start from scratch.  His primary objection to the legislation is that “it wildly compounds the complexity by adding hundreds of new provisions, regulations, mandates, committees and other arbitrary bureaucratic inventions. Worse, they are packed into a monstrous package without any regard to each other.  The only think linking these changes – such as the 118 new boards, commissions and programs – is political expediency.  Each must be able to garner just enough votes to pass.  There is not even a pretense of a unifying vision or conceptual harmony.”

Rather, Krauthammer’s vision of healthcare reform centers primarily on tort reform, which he estimates wastes half a trillion dollars every year – primarily dollars going into the legal system.  The rest, according to Krauthammer, is wasted on millions of unnecessary tests, procedures and referrals whose sole purpose is to avoid lawsuits.  Krauthammer also advocates for individuals being able to purchase healthcare insurance across state lines, which he says will increase competition and reduce premiums.  Nine states have one insurer covering 70 percent of the people (in Alabama, it’s 83 percent).

According to Krauthammer, the next step is to “Tax employer-provided health insurance.  This is an accrued inefficiency of 65 years, an accident of World War II wage controls.  It creates a $250 billion annual loss of federal revenue – the largest tax break for individuals in the entire federal budget” – even though that proposal is strongly opposed by labor unions.

Suggesting that the Democrats “have chosen the worst possible method”, Krauthammer says “The better choice is targeted measures that attack the inefficiencies of the current system one by one – tort reform, interstate purchasing and taxing employee benefits.  It would take 20 pages to write such a bill, not 2,000 – and provide the funds to cover the uninsured without wrecking both U.S. healthcare and the U.S. Treasury.”

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