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POLICY: Edwards copies my idea, and a damn good one it is too!

For a very long time I’ve been saying that the quickest way to get effective health care reform would be to kick Congress out of the FEBHP and make them all buy their care in the  individual market. Well in his reaction to Hillary’s plan announced yesterday, John Edwards has stolen my idea.

Mr. Edwards, in remarks earlier today in Chicago, added a new proposal
to his plan: He said that as president he would press legislation that
ends health care coverage for the president, members of Congress and
political appointees on July 20, 2009, until the Congress passes the
Edwards health care plan.

This is the most impressive thing Edwards has ever said. I wonder if we can extend this legislation to include certain Wharton professors and employees of certain right-wing think tanks?

As for Hillary.  She promised to bash insurers, and like the rest of the Democrats she wants to ban underwriting. Well here’s her plan. I’m not sure that there’s much in place in her plan to regulate insurers…although she may prove me wrong. Meanwhile I’m inclined to agree with Michael Cannon. This is pretty similar to Romneycare, although Mitt doesn’t want to admit to what he did in Massachusetts anymore, and Hillary does have the other wrinkle of extending FEBHP to the uninsured, and offering tax credits/subsidies with an individual mandate.

But essentially she’s hoping that this can be pushed through in compromise a la Massachusetts. The sensible moderates will wonder why she wants to strengthen the anachronism of employer-based health insurance, without putting a risk adjusting body in place. The right will say she’s extending FEBHP to all via the  back door (much as Edwards is trying to semi-explicitly do with Medicare), and that eventually the tax credits and subsidies will lead to a government take-over (whatever the hell that means). And the left will wonder why she’s leaving the insurance companies in place at all.

My sense is that unless we convince Congress how bad things are via some innovative technique like mine or Edwards’, not much will happen for a few more years. Any worthwhile health care reform plan is too complex and too easily smeared to pass Congress unless the wolf is not only at the door but eating the children in the living room.

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