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In last night’s GOP presidential debate Mitt Romney said it wasn’t enough to repeal ObamaCare; we need to replace it.
But, unfortunately, there was no real debate about that issue or any questioning of him about what he would do to replace the terrible health care law.
When it comes to health care, which is consuming scarily larger portions of the U.S. economy each year, no one really knows what the candidates would do. Given health care’s growing role in the U.S. economy, and given how much government interference and policy fuels that growth, we should have a debate devoted entirely to health care. But we won’t see that anytime soon.
So how to tell what the candidates think?
Kaiser Health News has compiled a helpful chart laying out the views of the 2012 GOP candidates on several health care issues.
What surprises me the most is that when it comes to reforming the health care marketplace, the candidates as a whole seem to lack unity on perhaps the most important reform idea of the past decade: getting rid of the preference for employer-provided care in the tax code, and replacing it with a universal credit for purchasing insurance. This was central to George W. Bush’s health care reform ideas, which never gained enough support to pass Congress, and became a theme of McCain’s in 2008.
But, strangely, none of the candidates take it up despite all the evidence that it’s the most effective tool for infusing market-based cost controls on the rapidly rising prices in health care.
Romney says he supports a deduction for people who buy insurance on their own. That gets us part of the way there, but it’s just not good enough.
What’s doubly weird about this is that there is no new thinking needed. Most of the thought has been done. We just need to promote the idea, which will do more bring much-needed competition into this incredibly uncompetitive sector. We can make the idea more politically feasible by ensuring that people who have employer-based plans that they like continue to receive that benefit, and Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru have proposed.
Given the size of the health care sector, its dysfunction, and Obama’s role in making it worse, it’s pretty shocking that no GOP candidate has chosen to lead the way in explaining the way out of this mess to the American public.