Monday, February 4, 2008

When it Comes To Health Care Policy It Really Doesn't Matter Which Democrat Or Which Republican Wins Their Nomination

With "Super Tuesday" upon us, I am once again bringing back a post that argues there is little difference among the candidates in each of their respective parties.

My suggestion is that you not cast your caucus or primary vote for a candidate based upon their health care reform plan.

From “thirty thousand feet” the leading Republicans are offering much the same health care policy ideas—a more vibrant market serving a more responsible consumer who would control his health care choices in a system that doesn’t need to spend more money.

And, from that same "thirty thousand feet," the two remaining Democrats are all offering about the same thing--$100 billion+ in new annual spending to guarantee access for virtually all Americans to existing public and private health plan options as well as some new ones created by the government.

Republicans support an open marketno mandates and less insurance regulation—believing that the market must first get costs under control by developing new and more efficient offerings for people in the private market based on consumer-driven principles and new and more efficient and appealing options for people who have public coverage as well.

Democrats call for shared responsibility—often mandating employers and consumers to participate in their near universal system made up of Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, private individual coverage offered through government-run marketing structures, a Medicare-like government plan option for those under age-65, and existing employer plans.

I hate to say that it doesn’t really matter which of the Democrats, or Republicans, wins their separate primary battles. But in terms of the nits health care policy it really doesn’t.

Sure there are differences in their health care policy proposals. Among the Democrats, Obama doesn't have an individual mandate to buy coverage while Clinton does. Among the Republicans, McCain uses a tax credit to help people buy coverage while Romney talks about tax deductions.

But remember, these are political proposals--generally just a few pages long. The real health reform process will eventually have to go through the legislative "sausage factory" that is Congress and I will suggest that the starting point from one Democrat compared to another, or one Republican compared to another, is hardly material.

As you prepare to vote in your state's caucus or primary, I would recommend that you focus on the other issues that are important to you, the "electability" of each of the candidates, and perhaps most importantly on the issue of health care, which of these candidates can finally break the health care reform logjam and get something done.

Whoever the eventual nominee is in each of the parties, we will have a Democrat and a Republican offering a dramatically different approach to American health care security.

The general election is where the big decision will be made on health care--and everything else.

You can see my analysis of each of the candidates plans by using the index in the right column.
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