“Health Care Plans of the Candidates”: Burying Our Heads in the Sand

A short op-ed in the NYT yesterday had this to say:

“Mitt Romney’s health care plan offers 15 guiding principles, but appropriately leaves to Congress the resolution of most details. Obamacare’s 2,400 pages were never understood even before passage, push all risk to taxpayers and promise economic disaster.”

This is, of course, either, at best, a demonstration of complete ignorance of the facts, or at worst, another example of conservative revisionism. When the Obama admin came into office, they also presented only some general guidelines. The crafting of the Affordable Care Act was left almost entirely to the Congress. In fact, the Obama admin was repeatedly criticized for not taking a more forceful role in the bill’s creation. This isn’t ancient history. It was in 2009.

On the surface, Romney’s claims of repealing the Affordable Care Act are patently fantastical. It took decades to get comprehensive health care reform in the country. When the political will finally surfaced, it was a fight to the death. Romney must recognize this, carefully choosing his words stating “I will act to repeal Obamacare on my first day.” “Acting to” is very different from “doing.” This nuance, I am afraid, is lost on the electorate. What he plans to do, is another mystery. The discussion is bordering on infantile.

More frustrating for me, is the constant call for “market solutions” to our problems of health care delivery. We have given the market a chance. The market has had free reign to do as it likes for decades. We have seen this market approach to health fail miserably. Why? Simply because health markets don’t work like hardware stores.

People who have insurance really have no clue what the lives of people without insurance are like. Similarly, the wealthy have little concept of the lives of the poor. Clearly, Romney is both.

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About Peter Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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