Leavitt: Competition Key to Reworking U.S. Health Care
The U.S. health care system "is in need of serious reform, but the solution is not Cuban-style socialized medicine, as Michael Moore advocates in his new film 'Sicko,'" HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt writes in a Washington Times opinion piece.
He continues, "We need a uniquely American approach to health care, based on a free, competitive marketplace, organized to make private health insurance affordable for all Americans."
He notes that some members of Congress "want to use [the State Children's Health Insurance Program] as a step toward universal government-funded, government-run coverage," but, he continues, the "problem is that most of the children they want to add to SCHIP already have private insurance. So these children would give up the private insurance they have now as they move to government health care." Leavitt says that instead of "encouraging people to drop private coverage in favor of government programs," federal health officials should be implementing policies that foster participation in the private health insurance market.
Leavitt lists three steps that are needed to achieve that goal: providing "sustainable assistance for the poor, the elderly and the disabled"; giving states the authority to "organize the marketplace to make private insurance more affordable for all Americans"; and changing federal tax policy to "eliminate the blatant tax discrimination against those who buy health insurance on their own and not through their employers."
Leavitt concludes, "Only the free choices of American consumers and the competition of an organized marketplace can keep costs in check, and only by keeping costs in check can we achieve our common goal of making certain that every American is insured" (Leavitt, Washington Times, 7/9).