NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 4, 2007

What's most striking about the Democratic presidential hopefuls' health care proposals are that they spurn market reforms and reforming the tax code, which is biased toward health spending, says the Wall Street Journal.

Consider Sen. Hillary Clinton's proposals:

  • Allowing any patient to join any health plan at any time, regardless of pre-existing conditions; this is called "guaranteed issue" and is precisely one of the mandates that makes insurance so expensive in states like Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
  • Letting Medicare negotiate lower prices and allow for reimportation from foreign countries; these drugs, of course, are cheaper because foreign governments impose price controls on pharmaceuticals that mostly originated in the United States.

The other candidates' plans are not much different, says the Journal:

  • Barack Obama's plan would retain private insurance, while a sliding subsidy would be provided to those with lower incomes.
  • His campaign says this will cost the federal government between $50 billion and $65 billion per year, and will be paid for by repealing the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.
  • Meanwhile, John Edwards estimates his universal plan will cost between $90 billion and $120 billion a year -- and some experts say the price will be higher than that -- which he proposes to fund by raising taxes.

It will be interesting to see in the coming months how Clinton and the others negotiate to extend universal coverage to all Americans, says the Journal.  Given that most of the proposals so far would raise, not lower, the cost of health care, they might want to go back to the drawing board.

Source: Editorial, "Hillary Care Blooms," Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2007.

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