Commentary Magazine


Not So Much Change We Can Believe In

James Capretta comes up with a smart conservative response to ObamaCare — let employer-provided healthcare go on as it is and build an alternative “consumer-driven marketplace outside of employer-provided care.” He explains:

In general, it should be something like the program through which federal employees select their coverage every year from competing private insurers. Eligible state residents would have sufficient information about the offerings, and their tax credit would get sent automatically to the plan of their choice. States would be required to ensure that the price and quality differences between competing options were clear, transparent, and easily accessible via the Internet. When residents chose more expensive plans, they would pay the difference out of their own pockets. When they chose less expensive plans, they would get to keep every dollar saved.

No, it isn’t easy to explain, but it may be the only viable alternative to a public-option plan that would surely morph into a nationalized single-payer plan. And it does avoid the concern from voters — which the Obama team is wrestling with — that a great number of people want to just keep what they have.

Indeed, some polling data suggests voters aren’t inclined to accept all that much change. A new Rasmussen poll shows:

Forty-two percent (42%) of Americans say every one in the United States should have free health care. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44% disagree. However, by a two-to-one margin (60% to 27%), Americans reject free health care for all if it means changing their own coverage and joining a program administered by the government.

It’s good to see Americans are opposed to “free things”– because they are never free. But it is also interesting,  as Capretta argues, how many Americans like what they have. And it raises the question as to why this administration is bent on destroying a very popular system to solve a confined problem (the uninsured). Nevertheless, the “winning” solution is going to be one that offers “reform” but recognizes Americans’ reluctance to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In that regard, Capretta’s contribution is an important one.

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