Healthcare and Broken Government

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Government is broken. Nothing demonstrates this better than healthcare.

Federal, state and local governments are broke, because spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs is rising faster than the economy is growing and politicians can raise taxes.

Healthcare is too expensive.

In the United States, healthcare swallows 18 percent of the $15 trillion GDP, and the government foots nearly half the bill. In nations with comparable per capita incomes—France, Germany and Canada—healthcare eats 12 percent.

The American system, emphasizing a regulated private market, does some things better—quicker access to specialists—but other systems, with more state participation, have strengths—better access to general practitioners and citizens that don’t fear losing their homes to illness.

The even bigger, hidden costs are the high quality jobs businesses can’t create.

U.S. companies cannot continue paying nearly $1 trillion more in higher healthcare premiums and taxes to finance an inefficient, bloated and broken system.

Simply, Americans pay more for drugs, administrative costs to highly paid executives and a mind numbing bureaucracy, and malpractice suits than do the Europeans and Canadians.

No reforms offered by President Obama, Congressional Democrats or Republicans are real reforms if those problems are not solved.

Healthcare payment and regulation are terribly complex, and the litmus test of any reform package should be does it truly lower costs and make the system more affordable.

President Obama and the Democrats have rolled out proposals that would add bureaucrats and raise spending by at least $1 trillion dollars. Their proposals hike costs not lower them.

All the additional taxes are resources private citizens and government could better use to invest in businesses, cut debt, and shore up infrastructure.

Voters in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia have made clear Americans don’t want what the Democrats are offering, yet Obama persists, plunger in hand.

The Republicans offer no viable alternative. Tax breaks, medical savings accounts and relying even more on markets are not going to curb drug, insurance company and malpractice costs.

Why not leave the present system alone but offer a public or non-profit alternative patterned after European and Canadian systems. Require drug companies to charge those entities no more than they do foreign systems, those insurers to spend, as many in Nebraska do, 92 percent of premiums on medical services, and require subscribers to forgo the right to sue health providers.

Private insurers would be in a scurry to match the low premiums such an entity could provide.

Then let Americans choose which system they prefer—require all employers to offer this public option on their menu of choices.

But don’t hold your breath. President Obama is not about to genuinely challenge generous contributors to Democratic campaigns in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, or the most reliable of Democratic allies—tort lawyers.

Republicans will continue to polemic about markets.

Taxes will continue rising, premiums sky rocketing, and businesses failing.

At least the Romans could boast they did not elect Nero.

Mr. Obama, look outside, Americans are burning.

Disclosure: No positions

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