Cato’s Michael Tanner takes on Obama on healthcare

Michael Tanner, a policy expert on healthcare with the Cato Institute, has unloaded on initiatives put forward by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress:

Drip by painful drip, the details of the Democratic health-care-reform plan have been leaking out. And from what we can see so far, it looks like bad news for American taxpayers, health-care providers, and, most important, patients.


The plan would not initially create a government-run, single-payer system such as those in Canada and Britain. Private insurance would still exist, at least for a time. But it would be reduced to little more than a public utility, operating much like the electric company, with the government regulating every aspect of its operation.

Tanner lists some of the details of Obamacare such as the employer and individual mandate (which Obama opposed during the campaign last year) and a government run option for healthcare.


Tanner offers more commentary and explanations of his opinion this podcast from the Cato Institute and he has published more information on seven bad ideas being bantered about in the debate on healthcare in Washington, which include more regulation of private healthcare and government control of medical records:

Taken individually, each of these proposals would be a bad idea. Taken collectively, they would dramatically transform the American health care system in a way that would harm taxpayers, health care providers, and — most importantly — the quality and range of care given to patients.
It’s not a single-payer in name, but a government option will make healthcare so expense that individuals will be forced, through regulation and dilution of the risk pool, to seek the cheaper, government run program. Americans will simply have no choice.


Tanner also had harsh words for parts of the GOP alternative, which was introduced this week:

[T]he bill has some good features (changing the tax treatment of health insurance, expanding HSAs), the good is swamped by a bizarre collection of regulation, mandates, and hidden taxes.


In fact, the bill appears to be based, in large part, on what its sponsors call “the well-known, bi-partisan achievement of universal health care through a private system in Massachusetts.” But the Massachusetts model has failed to either achieve universal coverage or control health care costs. Rather, as I noted in this recent blog, it has led to more regulation, less consumer choice, and increased insurance premiums, while running huge budget deficits that have already led to one tax increase and are now causing the state to consider premium caps and global budgets. One wonders why congressional Republicans would want to head down that road.

Romneycare has been a disaster for Masschusetts, and as much as Mitt Romney denied it, his healthcare plan was not too far off from what was pushed by Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary last year.

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