Cures as the Positive Hook for Healthcare Policy
James Pinkerton offers a strategic angle for Republicans on healthcare:
Health-care spending is a problem, but it is important to remember that spending is a secondary issue. The primary issue is health itself — how to achieve it, how to maintain it, and how to regain it in the case of sickness or injury. Health-care finance is hotly contested political ground, yet Washington has had precious little to say on the subject of health in recent years.
That is perplexing — and a huge missed opportunity. After all, people don’t go to the doctor because they have insurance plans or health-savings accounts. They go to the doctor to get well and to stay well. Americans’ eyes may glaze over at the wonky debates that are catnip to Washingtonians, but, beyond the Beltway, they can’t seem to get enough information about their bones, bladders, and blood pressure. …
Those on the right who have been fighting Obamacare have been loud and articulate in their criticism of its bureaucratic aspects, but they have had precious little to say about curing and preventing diseases. The opportunity now exists for Republicans to reassociate themselves with the creation of health. Let the Democrats own the redistribution of health-care dollars and the management of scarcity; Republicans have a chance to own the much more powerful issue of solving health problems.
Extrapolating a little bit to derive policy from Pinkerton’s suggestion, free-market based reforms — real choice when it comes to the context in which health insurance is purchased, a functional system that pushes high-deductible plans back toward being actual insurance rather than an unnecessary layer for routine care, and tort reform — would jump start the healthcare industry and probably free up money for public investment in research.
It’s an approach worth candidates’ consideration — not to be forgotten, of course, once they claim offices.