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October 12, 2007

The Candidates and Health Care

I understand – not agree with, but understand – calls for a national health care plan. After all, the people get public education for “free,” and most parents would agree that their children’s health is more important than their education.

The flaw in this thinking, however, is that our “free” educational system doesn’t work. Over the decades, as formerly private and locally-controlled schools came under increased state direction and control, and then federal control, the quality of education suffered. Moreover, federal aid to higher education (to institutions directly, and aid and loans to students) has led to an explosion in tuition costs combined with a “dumbing down” of the curriculum.

The case of health care is slightly different, because with the progress of science and technology, treatment has improved. But in other industries with fewer regulations and subsidies, costs go down, not up. The first thing the federal government should do in addressing health care is investigate if there is anything in its aid programs, regulations, and tax policies that causes the price of procedures and prescriptions to rise. For instance, if helpful drugs are kept off the market by the FDA, that’s a restriction in supply, which means prices go up.

What do the Presidential candidates have to say about health care? A helpful overview of the positions of nine of the leading candidates is provided by the Nursing Online Educational Database. Some want more government control, even though central planning has failed wherever it’s been tried. Others want to expand access to health care (demand), but without increases in availability (supply), and this will only make costs increase all the more. It’s unfortunate that more candidates don’t adopt a Tenth Amendment position, that has the federal government getting out of health care and leaving it to states and individuals to decide for themselves. Putting an end to federal restrictions and aid will cause the industry to follow the laws of the free market, which encourages higher quality and lower prices over time.

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