Bobby Jindal’s remarkable article in today’s Washington Post makes a conservative case for health reform by outlining a 10-point plan that looks very much like the plan that President Obama outlined in his September speech to the joint session of Congress back in September.
- Voluntary Purchasing Pools. Check. In the Democrats’ bill, they’re called “the Exchange”.
- Portability. Check.
- Lawsuit reform. No, this isn’t in the Democrats’ health care reform bills, but it is on the agenda. Let’s not forget, lawsuits (aka torts) cover a universe far wider and deeper than health claims. While it’s surely something to consider, it’s also a dense issue that would have to be coordinated with states’ rules on lawsuits. (And let’s not forget, tort reform has done little to keep health insurance costs down in states that have adopted it.)
- Required coverage of pre-existing conditions. Check.
- Transparency and payment reform. Check.
- Electronic medical records. Check.
- Tax-free health savings accounts. Nope, these aren’t part of the Democrats’ plan. Why? Because they only work for the very rich and those who don’t really care if Wall Street steals half of them while Congress turns its head during Republican administrations.
- Reward healthy lifestyle choices. Check, though premium rebates are not the reward in the Democrats’ plan. The entire plan focuses around wellness rather than sickness.
- Cover young adults by allowing them to remain on parents’ plan longer. Check.
- Refundable tax credits for the uninsured to obtain insurance. Check.
8 out of Jindal’s 10 are already in the President’s plan and the variations wending their way toward a merge process. Of course, at the end he spouts some nonsense about not forcing people into a government-run system, but that particular provision is nowhere to be found in any of the current proposals. The only plan with a personal mandate (and no employer mandate) is the Baucus plan — the only one without a public option at this time.
Jindal’s article makes it clear that conservatives agree with how we’re proceeding on health care reform. It looks like Democrats made a serious effort to bring conservative principles into play where they could as a proxy for the demagogues in Congress who decided stonewalling is the way to reform our health care system.