08 January 2008

Robert Reich stands on his head

Robert Reich writes a column in the Wall Street Journal complaining that mandates are nothing, meaningless, the least of our worries as progressives stand on the crest of the victory of universal health care. Or at least universally forced subsidization of the insurance industry.
But instead of celebrating, the candidates and left-leaning pundits are squabbling over whether the plans should include so-called mandates that require everyone to purchase health insurance. Talk about self-inflicted wounds. Mandates are a sideshow, and fighting over them risks turning away voters from the main event.
He doesn't address whatsoever the fact that with mandates all that's wrong and unsustainable with the American system is preserved and strengthened, in particular underinsurance and the out-of-control costs that don't provide care but only enrich a failed industry.

The WSJ article stands on its head what Reich got right about single-payer just a year ago:
... three cheers for the politician who bypasses America’s inefficient private insurance market and establishes a single payer that provides all Americans with health insurance just as good as the health insurance their representatives in Congress receive free of charge. Note I said single payer, not single provider. Americans want to keep their choice of doctor and hospital. But a single payer – either through Medicare or the federal employee’s health insurance program – would avoid the current insanity by which private insurers spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year advertising and marketing to younger and healthier beneficiaries, and seeking to discourage older and riskier ones, or people with pre-existing medical conditions. America now has the only health-insurance system in the world designed to avoid sick people.
None of that will change with mandates.

The other main point of that article was that the one good thing about Bush's health plan was that it would spell the end to employment-based healthcare — and good riddance, Reich wrote. Now, suddenly, it's to be strengthened, and we're supposed to cheer that. Inconceivable.

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