Here’s the man himself interviewed in the run up to the State of the Union by the the friendly WSJ:
The Wall Street Journal: Thanks for taking the time for us. We wanted to think forward to the State of the Union a little bit, next week. Obviously, health care is something that has moved back to the top of the agenda. You’ve got employers and employees both equally concerned about cost and availability. What’s the approach going to be this year, philosophically and specifically?President Bush: The government must work to reduce costs through the spread of information technology, which many in the health field say will help reduce the rising costs substantially; litigation reform to prevent these frivolous lawsuits from running up the cost of medicine, either through the practice of defensive medicine and/or premium increases, and actually drive good docs out of business. I’m particularly concerned about OB/GYNs; we have an OB/GYN crisis in states because of these lawsuits. The patient-doctor relationship is a crucial relationship in helping control the costs of medicine. The more transparent pricing is and the more opportunities patients have to make decisions in the health-care field, the more likely it is costs will not increase as dramatically as they have in the past.I believe in the expansion of HSAs [health savings accounts]. I will talk about my philosophy for health care in the State of the Union. I will specifically address issues that I want the Congress to take up over the course of this month, including how to expand HSAs to make them achieve an objective, which is to have a patient-doctor relationship that will have market forces within the decision-making process and the pricing of medicine; as well as have a system that’s portable for our workers, to recognize that we are a society which has significant job turnover, and therefore one of the uncertainties in a society in which there is job turnover is whether or not health care will go from one job to the next.As well, HSAs, in my judgment, as well as other innovative programs, like association health plans, will enable the small-business sector of the economy, in which there’s a lot of working uninsured, to be able to more likely afford health care. That’s what I’m going to be talking about.WSJ: How do you turn that into a bipartisan movement?Mr. Bush: The question going into the ’06 year is how do we take health care or entitlement reform, or all these issues, into something that the country really wants — which is a bipartisan look at issues, as opposed to what many interpret to be needless politics, so whether it be in health care or in a variety of issues we’ll be discussing. And that’s the challenge of the ’06 year.One big issue is competitiveness, of which health care is an important component. If our health-care system is such that small businesses, for example, can’t afford to stay in business, it’s going to obviously hurt our people, but it’s also going to make our country less competitive. The war on terror is a big issue. And I will continue to talk about a bipartisan approach to beating the terrorists. So whether it be in health care or these other issues, it’s, no question, a challenge.
So that’s it. 45 million uninsured, crisis at every level in the health care system and even rich people in Florida scared about the future and Bush believes that we going to solve it all by using IT to save money and sticking it to those blood sucking attorneys. Then of course we’re going to use the easily available transparent pricing to beat providers to death with market forces. Finally, he thinks the remaining solution is HSAs, which any analysis shows cost the system money overall. At least that’s apparent to anyone who can do basic math, a group which doesn’t seem to include Bush or virtually anyone in his party.
OK. What’s actually going to happen? Not much is my guess. The House is in disarray since Delay’s indictment, and the Senate is in some risk of going back to the Dems in the November election, and the biggest health care story — Medicare part D — is shaping up to be a disaster for the Administration. So why would any Republican in a position of influence get behind these ideas? Especially as most of them are actually counter to the interests of the big contributors at the AHA, AMA and AHIP.
Oh, I know. It’s because health care is just another form of terrorism, and that demands bi-partisan cooperation. Yup, the important thing is to link the two. Only Bush and PhRMA can manage to do that.