NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 25, 2006

The White House has been dropping hints that the president will make health-care reform the centerpiece of his State of the Union address. Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, has written the following health policy "wish list" for the State of the Union:

  • Propose "large health savings accounts (HSAs)." Federal tax laws encourage workers to surrender control over their health care to their employer. Among other things, that means that most people lose their health insurance when they leave a job.
  • Push hard for interstate commerce in health insurance. A big reason that health insurance is so expensive is over-regulation by the states and the fact that each state forbids you to buy insurance from carriers in another state. The Congressional Budget Office estimates some state regulations increase insurance premiums by as much as 15 percent.
  • Avoid further expansions of federal power. The president should explain that markets will deliver conveniences like electronic medical records and price and quality information just as soon as government stops monkeying with market incentives. And he should explain that expanding federal power at the expense of states is improper, because it limits individual freedom and the states' ability to experiment.
  • Clean up the Medicare mess. It would be nice for the president to acknowledge that the Medicare drug program that took effect this month was a huge mistake. Though the intent was to expand coverage, so far the program has caused many to lose the coverage they had, including some of the poorest and sickest seniors.

The Bush administration's health care record so far has been inconsistent, says Cannon. It's high time for the administration to straighten up and fly right by removing government influence over the health care sector.

Source: Michael F. Cannon, "A Blueprint for Health-Care Freedom," Washington Times, January 25, 2006.


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