Mr. Rove’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal attacks the the public option with the same, tired, neo-con rhetoric that plagued America for the last decade. Sorry for all the adjectives, but I just can’t help myself when it comes to Rove. What I hate to admit is that Rove is right for all the wrong reasons. The public option is not the way to fix America’s joke of a health care system.
In my last two blogs (blog one, blog two) about health care, I’ve suggested that the line between government responsibility and free market can be defined by parsing out the difference between rights and commodities. If the government can do something better than the private sector, like build an interstate highway system, or run a national miliarty, etc., it should do those things. Government exists for this purpose: to enable us to accomplish things together that we never could on our own. But there is an upper limit to what the government can accomplish insofar as it acts as the guarantor of our inalienable rights. The public option risks failing to realize this.
Let’s start with the obvious. The government cannot mandate that each and every American citizen be healthy. It could, however, offer tax credits to those healthy enough not to increase the drain on the health care system. It cannot offer diamond encrusted care plans to 300 million people. And yet, it can offer basic coverage that reflects our right to life.
The public option is not evil because it threatens private insurance companies. It is simply the wrong solution to the right problem. What America needs is a tiered health care system where the bottom tier is 100% government subsidized. Basic coverage is available to anyone who wants to go to the doctor. This reduces the burden on both the public and private sector. No longer do private insurance companies have to factor in check ups, basic prescriptions, simple procedures, etc., into their premiums. And the government can focus its full attention on streamlining that first tier.
This provides basic care to everyone in a way that avoids the emergency room loophole that tax payers already subsidize. We can put our tax dollars to good use for the betterment of the citizens of this country.
If you’re interested in the principles behind this idea, feel free to check out my post on emergent socialism.