The U.S. Supreme Court should announce its ruling soon on the constitutionality of the government takeover of health care. It’s no secret that I hope the court will throw out the whole law. Its requirement that everyone buy health insurance is just one outrage. There are many other outrages, including the creation of a massive entitlement program, new mandates for states, mandates for businesses and mandates for the conduct of health care and insurance industry companies on the whole.
The result has been not unexpected, and not what anyone wanted: higher health care costs, higher insurance premiums, businesses dropping insurance and consumer and medical industry dissatisfaction. I’ve heard from doctors and other medical professionals who have said they’re getting out of health care because of the law. I’ve heard from businesses that are shutting down, reducing staff or refusing to make new investment because of it. Certainly, that wasn’t the intent of the law, but there’s no escaping that has been the result.
If the court does strike down the law—and even if the court upholds it—the discussion about health care and the government’s role in it needs to start anew. There is a problem with health care in this country, and it needs to be fixed. There are actions that can be taken to make health care and health insurance less expensive and more accessible. Such reforms would result in better patient care and better health outcomes. That’s ultimately what politicians say they want when they pass laws impacting health care. That’s not what they got because they did it all wrong.
Health care reform requires less government, not more. And what government is needed should come from the states, not the federal government. The states, however, should resist implementing the portions of the health care law that may survive the court’s scrutiny, for the reasons I’ve described.
Government getting out of the way will allow individuals and families to be able to own their health insurance policies. Health Savings Accounts should be expanded so that patients can take advantage of that ownership. Tax advantages of insurance purchases should flow to individuals, not just businesses. Medical professionals should be able to practice their profession without regulatory burdens that decrease or make it hard to concentrate on patient care. Innovative practices that expand health care accessibility should be enlarged.
Charitable care, as an alternative to Medicaid, should be encouraged. Doctors should receive incentives to provide free or charitable care to the poor. Medicaid should be reformed to improve patient choice, care and outcomes, and the states should take the lead in what that reform looks like. Barriers to insurance sales should be eliminated, such as those that prohibit the purchase and sale of insurance across state lines. Mandates on types and content of insurance coverage should be eliminated.
All of these solutions remain available to state and federal policymakers even if the Supreme Court upholds the president’s health care takeover. The court’s ruling—whatever it is—should not be the last word on health care reform, rather it should be the start of a discussion about how to restore the traditional doctor-patient relationship that leads to better health care at a lower cost.
Wayne Hoffman is the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.