How real reform is different from Obamacare

Part three in a three-part series

To turn a phrase, there ought not to be a law; Obamacare should be booted from the U.S. Code and onto the ash heap of history.

Think it can’t be done? Guess again — Congress has reversed course on health care reform before.

On July 1, 1988, Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act and raised premiums on seniors to finance this new benefit. Retirees went ballistic, and in one of the most memorable pieces of news footage ever, an angry mob of elderly Americans confronted then-House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, a Democrat from Illinois. They literally surrounded his car, smacked his hood with picket signs, and chased him down the street on foot.

On Nov. 23, 1989, Congress voted to repeal this wildly unpopular legislation.

The same thing could happen to Obamacare. Public opinion surveys consistently show that Obamacare’s unpopularity only grows as Americans learn more about it. A May 22-23, 2010, Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters showed that 63 percent want Obamacare repealed. If voters make that displeasure known in congressional elections, voting against supporters of Obamacare and voting for those in favor of repealing it, things could change dramatically.

Republicans are carrying the anti-Obamacare banner. To overturn the law, they would need to secure 288 House votes and 67 in the Senate to withstand Obama’s veto of any repeal measure.

That’s a tall order. But ground gained in 2010 could make 2012, when Obama faces re-election, a different story. A change in the White House and further changes in Congress could make repeal not just possible, but even likely, if we the people are insistent enough about it.

If the court challenges to Obamacare fail, and it’s up to a new Congress and a new president to shred the old law and come up with a new one, here’s what they should do: craft real reform that covers the uninsured without destroying individual freedom, quality treatment, medical innovation and the economy.

A true, patient-centered health care reform bill could start with these two ideas:

1) Promote private ownership within a thriving individual health insurance marketplace.

Real reform requires a brand-new model for health coverage. Employers do not provide their workers with auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance or fire insurance, and they shouldn’t be expected to provide health insurance, either.

Americans should be free to purchase individual health care plans. This would be their private property — just like their savings accounts, retirement portfolios and life insurance policies.

If companies or other private organizations want to provide group health insurance, that’s fine; there could even be something like Rotary Health for Rotarians and Yankee Health open to Yankees fans across America. Health insurance companies should compete for our business.

The goal of proper health care reform is to allow maximum choice within a flexible and innovative market guided by entrepreneurs and creative companies. What we have under Obamacare is a system designed by power-seeking politicians, mandate-wielding bureaucrats, and big business and labor union lobbyists.

2) Make health coverage portable.

If American workers — rather than their bosses — manage their own health plans, they can carry them from job to job, city to city, or even when they go back to school or take time off for personal or family reasons. Such portability would end “job lock” — staying trapped in a bad job because you don’t want to lose your health insurance. Employers are likelier to treat their employees better if they can’t use coverage as a shackle.

These changes are only two of 10 that I discuss in my book. But the first priority is getting Obamacare repealed. It won’t be easy.

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Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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