Reed on the Issues

Tom Reed's campaign site has now posted its "issues" page, which contains a short run-down of Reed's positions on eight issues of the day.

Since healthcare is driving our current discussion, it's interesting to take a closer look at Reed's statement. He begins with this:

The current proposal, HR 3200, has been changed a number of times and likely will change many more times. At this point, the debate is not about the specifics of HR 3200. It’s about private care vs. socialized medicine.

He goes on to point out that Massa is in favor of single-payer healthcare, and Reed isn't. Fair enough, though even Massa agrees that single-payer is off the table. Reed wants the debate to be about socialized medicine, but it isn't -- it's about the way that the market for private insurance should be structured, and whether that market should include a public option to ensure competition.

Reed ends with :

We should subject health insurance to competition in the free market. Instead of being forced into a particular plan by their employer, people should be able to choose. Choose their own plan that allows them to work with their doctors, not a government board, to determine what treatments are necessary and when.

Allowing patients to choose health plans in an open market will force health insurance companies, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies to compete by offering plans, services and products based on market needs and demand. Free market competition will inevitably drive costs down.

Am I missing something here? Hasn't the free market led to rescission and denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions? How will Reed address that? Though HR 3200 contains no "government board" to determine treatment, why is it better to have an insurance company board making decisions, as they do today?

Also, even though employees can't choose their insurance, employers who purchase insurance can probably strike a better bargain, because they have the bargaining power of purchasing a good in volume. Xerox gets a better price from GM for fleet trucks than I do because they're buying thousands rather than one, and the same is true of insurance.

It's good that Reed is engaging on healthcare instead of just saying "No", but we need more meat on this topic.


At least he is giving the appearance of engaging in the debate. By insisting that the free market should be left to solve the problem he is in effect saying, "No."

I agree that his current position is lettuce and mayo on a "no" sandwich.

"Am I missing something here? Hasn't the free market led to rescission"

The government launched the "war on poverty" over 45 years ago - We have won that by now, haven't we?

Well, the free market has won the war on drugs, and its winning the war on patients. Some wars are not going to be won by government, at least not a democratic government. It's been shown that cost-effective universal health care can be achieved with a well-regulated market (France, Switzerland) or without it (UK, Canada), but our government has to want to win this one. Reed seems to be saying "pass." His idea that employers should offer various insurers, like his emphasis on individualism, certainly doesn't add anything to the discussion.

We can have a conversation about government running healthcare, and it would be interesting, but the government isn't going to run healthcare if HR 3200 passes more-or-less "as is".

Government is going to try to regulate the market for healthcare, which is a totally different thing. Government is good at regulating markets. The stock market is well regulated. The private equity market, and the mortgage-backed security market, which aren't regulated in the way that the stock market is, were the source of our current financial troubles, and for good reason. When a market isn't regulated correctly, the institutions in the market screw over the little guy.

This is what's happening in healthcare today. The healthcare market violates a number of the rules of a well-regulated free market. In the insurance part of the market, the seller of the service doesn't have to live up to their end of any deal. For example, they can back out of commitments (via rescission, a fancy name for cutting you off when you start to cost them money).

Tom Reed and other Republicans use "free market" as a synonym for "anyone can do anything in a market" which isn't how real "free" markets work. I'm all for free, well-regulated markets, but that's not what Reed means.