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Or We Could Make It Simple and Cheap

The monstrously complicated Democratic health-care bills costing upward of a trillion dollars are churning through Congress. They are too complicated for the average voter to fully comprehend and too voluminous for the average lawmaker to read. They spend money we don’t have and create enormous new bureaucracies to regulate, limit, control, and, yes, ration care. The actual cost of health care (as opposed to what the government will pay for it) isn’t addressed in any meaningful way. Medicare Advantage, a popular program, will be slashed. And millions will have huge new tax liabilities. There is something for everyone to hate, and a lot of people do.

Republicans and a few Democrats have offered insightful critiques. There are many, many ideas and proposals swirling from, among others, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Tom Price, and Rep. Paul Ryan. But now Jeffrey Anderson has gone to the trouble of culling the best ideas and putting them on a single page. Yes, one page. These ideas have appeared in one form or another in Republican proposals and in pundit columns. And here’s the kicker: it doesn’t really cost a lot. Here’s the short version of the already short version of conservative health-care reform suggested by Anderson:

1. Leave employer-provided insurance as it is and give individuals a $2,500 tax credit to equalize tax treatment for individuals who buy their own insurance.

2. Allow individuals to buy insurance across state lines.

3. Extend COBRA for up to 30 months, allowing people to keep their insurance if they leave a job.

4. Remove government regulations limiting insurers from offering premium breaks for healthy lifestyle choices.

5. Enact real malpractice reform (limit punitive damages to $250,000 and all noneconomic damages to $750,000).

6. Provide help to encourage insurance pools for the hard to insure.

That’s it. Over 10 years Anderson’s plan would spend $75B and include $345M in tax cuts. The Baucus bill (one version of it, at least) would spend $856B and include a net increase of $352B in tax hikes and $47B in fines. Both the Anderson and the Baucus plans would insure 95 percent of Americans.

There is something to be said for simplicity — and a lot to be said for achieving the same results as Democrats are promising without a massive tax hike, a government takeover of health care, another massive hit to the budget, and thousands of pages of new federal regulations.