The question of the day: Will Congress enact health-care legislation that empowers the people, or the government? Not only did House bill HR 3200 offer a trillion-dollar price tag, it offered a breathtaking power grab over individuals' health care and insurance decisions. Among its 1,000 pages: further consolidation of federal power over "comparative effectiveness research" (building on the billion-dollar bureaucracy created by last winter's stimulus bill); a public health plan (with strong economic incentives for employers to drop existing coverage for employees in lieu of a cheaper 8 percent payroll tax), and a health benefits advisory committee (bureaucrats with the power to mandate procedures every insurer would have to cover). All told, HR 3200 is a big government lover's dream.
Instead of more government, Congress could enact consumer-centered reforms. How about eradicating red tape that prevents insurers from offering medical plans on a national scale, or passing incentives to foster the growth of a market for catastrophic coverage plans and tax-free health savings accounts? For the uninsured, how about sliding-scale tax credits that would help such individuals purchase catastrophic coverage? How about doubling the tax deduction for contributions to nonprofits such as Catholic Charities, which offers medical services out of its Downtown clinic?
As we work to improve access to the world's best health care, let's choose solutions that trust the American people and not the bureaucrats in Washington.