Sense from The Times (!)

Holy Toledo!!

Who got to The New York Times?

First, an article which admits that the surge in Iraq is working!! (Curiously, BlueJersey neglected to link to this article.) The Democratic presidential candidates, apparently concluding that George Bush (gasp!!) was right and that the war in Iraq can, in fact, be won militarily, are hedging their bets. Not, mind you, that they display the slightest inclination to work with the President to ensure victory in the war; they’re just trying to find new ways of declaring defeat.

And, then, an Op-ed on health care policy which soberly and intelligently discusses the issue and proposes several very worthwhile "solutions".

What’s next? A conversion to originalism on matters constitutional?

Generally, the forces of the Left express less-than-no interest in curtailing the high costs of health care, preferring, instead, to advocate for a governmental takeover: "single payer". Never mind that the two governmentally run health care systems for private folks – Medicare and Medicaid – are bankrupt. Never mind that their attempts to control costs by reducing physician reimbursements results in MD’s refusing to take patients covered thereby. Never mind that the vaunted VA system produced the Walter Reed debacle. Never mind the virtually every state sees endemic fraud in its publicly-run systems.

Americans do not lack access to health insurance; they simply recoil at the costs. And – be still my aching heart – on this, the Times has much to say.

First, it goes right after providers, noting that physicians make more in this country (vis a vis others in the economy) than essentially anywhere else in the world and advocating for reductions. THAT will delight the AMA no end; medical pay cuts probably rate relatively low on their list of proposed solutions.

Second, it specifically questions the price-fixing ability of the government – heresy for a leftist paper – and admits the benefits of consumer driven health care decisions. Heck, an admission that government does not know best, of itself, constitutes a magnificent step in the right direction, but even remotely supporting market-based reforms … Wow.

Put pithily, The Times says, in effect, we can’t have everything we want, and that paying for it ourselves might be a good idea. Just so.

Start with the idea of a nationwide, individual market: carriers free to sell whatever policies they wish, free from any state mandates (provided that the carrier’s proposal is approved in any one state). Second, encourage HSAs, with high-deductible policies, such that consumers pay for routine medical care, routine prescriptions, etc., thereby providing an incentive to get only that which is necessary (the Times admits that such programs produce no adverse health outcomes) and, certainly, placing downward pressure on prices, as physicians to deal with patients rather than insurers. Adopt Bush’s proposal to take insurance out of the workplace and make it an individual purchase, offering tax benefits for same. There might even be room for government, providing for catastrophic/chronic programs against truly astonishing expenses.

Many folks who have used the political system to advantage won’t be happy. Those, for instance, who successfully lobbied get birth control covered will be back to paying this routine expense. Those who secured a mandate for infertility coverage will find themselves out of luck. And people accustomed to paying $10 or so for a doctor visit will find that visit costs more. (Which, of course, is as it should be; routine maintenance on one’s body should be treated no differently than routine maintenance on one’s home or car.)

America already does a pretty good job providing coverage; some 85% of the people already have at least basic coverage, and many of those who do not are here illegally. Reducing costs means that everyone takes something of a hit. Doctors will get paid less; consumers will pay more (out of pocket) but more than make up for that in reduced premiums.

In short, it appears that the Times has – astonishingly – entered the discussion as an adult, prepared to admit reality, as opposed to advocating for a Clinton-Vitale governmentally-administered, command-and-control, health care monopoly, the likes of which only the NJEA could love (as it would create a health care system every bit as thorough and efficient as the public schools.)

Perhaps, a few more articles and Op-Eds like this and the old Gray Lady, while still a denizen of the Left, will, at least, be entitled to be taken as something other than comic relief. Sense from The Times (!)