Columnist Promotes Nationalized Health Care Spending System
General Motors' recent problems with health costs, the new Medicare law, the "state and local health care time bomb" and "Congress' recent refusal to trim soaring state Medicaid subsidies" all indicate a "path toward the nationalization of health care spending -- an idea that's so easy to slam politically yet so sensible for business that only Republicans can sell it," columnist Matt Miller writes in a Fortune opinion piece. There is a "potential common agenda lurking beneath today's health cost angst" -- a two-step solution to the problem, Miller adds.
He outlines a plan to nationalize health care spending, not delivery, under which employers would "move a chunk of private-sector health costs to government," and the government would "find ways to guarantee coverage for all while re-engineering health care delivery to lower costs in the long term (without the price controls that stall innovation abroad)."
He writes that the government could ask "employers to keep, say, 80% of their roughly $400 billion health spending in the game -- and pledge to hold them harmless from increases in future costs." In return, "business would support the general tax increases needed to plug the $80 billion annual hole this 'business health cost relief' would create," Miller continues.
Responding to skeptics, Miller notes that the new Medicare law "was the first step in the Republican-led socialization of health spending." He adds, "Companies have been clobbered funding retiree health plans. The GOP felt their pain, and presto, $750 billion over 10 years moved from private to public budgets." Miller concludes by asking, "[D]oesn't American business have enough to do without managing health care, too?" (Miller, Fortune, 5/2).