Wyden-Bennett is the only Democrat-led bill that removes the tax prejudice against employees buying their own health insurance, instead of being forced meekly to accept whatever their HR managers chose for them. Wyden-Bennett has its problems. The most important one is that it proposes both an individual and employer “pay or play” mandate, which would hike taxes and must result in more government control than Senator Wyden anticipates.
Nevertheless, if the Senate accepts the premise that every American should have the same choice of health benefits, irrespective of his employer, Wyden-Bennett is a good starting place. So, it was remarkable that the Wyden-Bennett bill has not come up for serious discussion. One is forced to conclude that the president’s faction is not really interested in giving Americans more choice of health benefits.
In a New York Times op-ed, Senator Wyden rips into the bills currently under consideration. And in an interview with MSNBC he rips into the health-insurance industry for its intensive lobbying to preserve employers’ monopoly over workers’ health benefits (which they do because the high friction costs benefit the insurers).
— John R. Graham is director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.
This blog post originally appeared on National Review’s Critical Condition.