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Trump releases seven-point health care reform plan . . . and it's excellent
A lot more than just getting rid of the lines.
I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that I am not that big a fan of election years, and here's a case in point. At this moment, #NeverTrump is all the rage among conservatives, and there's a tremendous push to get Republican primary voters united behind one remaining Trump rival to take the nomination away from him.
My job is to write what I think about whatever happens on a given day. It's not to only write what I think will result in a certain outcome. So when I tell you that Donald Trump's new seven-point health care reform plan is excellent, some of you are going to say: Don't say that now! It'll help Trump! #NeverTrump!!!
But my job is not to care one way or the other about who it will help or hurt. It's to say what I honestly think. And what I honestly think is that the plan Trump released yesterday is as good as I've heard from anyone in the race - if not necessarily better - for how to replace ObamaCare. I'm going to excerpt the seven points entirely from Trump's web site:
- Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
- Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.
- Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
- Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.
- Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.
- Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
- Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.
He then goes on to talk about immigration, and notes that if we merely enforced the immigration laws already on the books, we'd save billions that we now spend providing health care to illegals through Medicaid. You can try to paint this as racist, but as a fact it is impossible to dispute.
The best thing about the plan - aside from the obvious feature of getting rid of ObamaCare - is the emphasis on expanded Health Savings Accounts, along with the shift in tax deductibility to individuals who spend money on health insurance as opposed to employers. The use of the tax code to tie health insurance to employment was one of the worst policy decisions of the 20th Century, tied to wage controls during World War II, and it's well past time to correct it.
Another excellent feature is price transparency. Today, if you walk into a doctor's office and try to self-pay, they look at you like you're from another planet, and half the time they don't even know what things cost because everyone just figures insurance covers it, so who cares? If people don't understand how that drives up the cost of health care, they really need a crash course in basic economics.
I would like to see health insurance essentially cease to exist aside from coverage for catastrophic costs. Insurance is supposed to be protection against risk, not a big welfare program that pays everyone's bills for everything, which is what health insurance has turned into. I really don't know a way to make that happen via government policy, but making it easier for people to build health savings accounts is a very good place to start.
Now, you may criticize the timing of this announcement. With so many conservatives refusing to support Trump on the belief that he is not a real conservative, what better way to win them over than to suddenly announce the manner in which you'd replace ObamaCare - and have it be very much to conservatives' liking?
Maybe that was a driving force. But if it is, I would say this: If someone is going to try to win my vote, I'd rather have him do it with a really excellent policy proposal than with a vicious attack ad or a manipulative mailer, or a stupid robocall.
Trump's faults are the same today as they were yesterday, but the fact of the matter is that this is an excellent proposal. If the GOP can hang onto the House and Senate, this is a set of reforms that Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell would be happy to put on President Trump's desk to sign.
And if we find ourselves with a choice between Trump and Hillary, I'll ask you as I did the other day: Do you really want to elect Hillary, who would veto any repeal of ObamaCare, instead of the man who proposed the reforms described above?
Because that's insane.