I saw on Fox News last night that the Republicans in Congress finally put out a health care reform proposal. Why did it take them this long? It is apparently only about 200 pages long (and only in comparison to the continually growing Democratic bill could this be considered a virtue), and the Congressional Budget Office's "scoring" suggests that it might be the right starting point. From the November 5, 2009 Washington Examiner:
The Congressional Budget Office Wednesday night released its cost analysis of the Republican health care plan and found that it would reduce health care premiums and cut the deficit by $68 billion over ten years.The Republican argument is that by cutting costs, there is some possibility of expanding coverage in the future.
The Republican plan does not call for a government insurance plan but rather attempts to reform the system by creating high-risk insurance pools, allowing people to purchase health insurance policies across state lines and instituting medical malpractice reforms.
"Not only does the GOP plan lower health care costs, but it also increases access to quality care, including for those with pre-existing conditions, at a price our country can afford," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
According to CBO, the GOP bill would indeed lower costs, particularly for small businesses that have trouble finding affordable health care policies for their employees. The report found rates would drop by seven to 10 percent for this group, and by five to eight percent for the individual market, where it can also be difficult to find affordable policies.
The GOP plan would have the smallest economic impact on the large group market that serves people working for large businesses that have access to the cheapest coverage. Those premiums would decline by zero to 3 percent, the CBO said.
I have made something of the same argument with respect to the Democratic proposal, which is full of items that are supposed to cut costs, and that could have been passed separately months ago. So why wasn't it? And why didn't Republicans pass something like their proposal when they controlled Congress? They could have made real progress on a real issue, perhaps made it harder for the Democrats to get control of Congress in 2006 (and the White House last year)--but pretty clearly, the Republican Party was too busy chatting up teenage boys about sex, having trouble with their "wide stance" in public restrooms, and spending money like drunken sailors. This may be too little, too late to save the Republican Party.
I wish there were a serious opposition party to the Democrats.