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Government-Run Health Care Would Lead To Dependence On State

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress' attempts "to push us toward government-run health care" are an example of the "shift from a market-based economy to a political one in which the government picks winners and losers and extends its reach and power in unprecedented ways," Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), member of the House Budget and Ways and Means committees, write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Obama's proposed "Medicare-style government plan" would allow it "to charge artificially low premiums by paying fees well below private rates." According to Wehner and Ryan, such a plan would "devastate" private health insurance companies trying to compete and would result in "the nationalization of the health care sector, which today accounts for 16% of U.S. gross domestic product."

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In addition, government-run health care "will be profoundly detrimental to the quality of American medicine" because the government's lower costs would make private investment more of a financial risk. According to Wehner and Ryan, this would result in less private participation and delays to the development of "potentially lifesaving treatments." In addition, the proposed government-run system would place the U.S. "on a glide path toward European-style socialism," which might negatively affect the economy because tax cuts would result in cuts to health care and would not easily be enacted, they write.

Wehner and Ryan call for a plan that can be formed using tax credits, high-risk pools, "insurance choice" and "regulatory reform" that will "help the uninsured find coverage in the private sector and use market incentives to contain costs." Wehner and Ryan write that "we will move from a limited welfare state into a full-blown one" if the U.S. relies on nationalized health care, which "will lead here, as it has elsewhere, to passivity and dependence on the state" (Wehner/Ryan, Wall Street Journal, 1/16).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.