Targeting the Problem

The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dan Crippen, advised the Senate Aging Committee in testimony on Monday to understand a problem before spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fix it.

What a novel idea!

The man who produced cost estimates for Congress for four years has suggested to Congress that it might be wise to start by counting who most needs help with health insurance and prescription drugs before enacting hugely expensive new programs.

For example, Crippen said that less than half of the 41 million uninsured are without coverage for 12 months or more. The other 20 million are between jobs, between spousal coverage, and between public programs. The average period without health insurance is seven months, and 40% are uninsured for fewer than four months.

We’ve said for years that many people are uninsured precisely because we so closely tie health insurance to the workplace in this country, forcing people to lose their health insurance when they change or lose their jobs and discriminating with subsidies against those who don’t have the option of job-based coverage.

The solution is not to decide that everyone needs to have the ?stability? of government-sponsored health insurance – heaven forbid – but to fix the system that kicks people off the insurance rolls so arbitrarily!

?Until the nature of the problem is clear, the solutions we devise may be ineffective and unnecessarily costly,? Crippen says. This could suggest targeting new programs to people who are chronically uninsured and have low incomes.

Crippen makes a similar point in talking about a Medicare drug benefit, saying it’s important for legislators to recognize that three-fourths of seniors already have coverage. If the government has limited money to spend, even the Washington Post recommends a targeted, low-income benefit.

None of this is to say that health insurance and drug coverage aren’t important for those who lack it. Only that Congress should take a careful look at how it plans to spend taxpayer money to make sure we get the results we expect.

I’m off to Chicago today to speak at a big National Council on the Aging conference and was in Florida earlier this month to speak at a ?Healthy Florida? retreat. The conversation over health reform continues, even as Washington is consumed by plans for war.

Please pray for our soldiers.

Grace-Marie Turner




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author

The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dan Crippen, advised the Senate Aging Committee in testimony on Monday to understand a problem before spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fix it.

What a novel idea!

The man who produced cost estimates for Congress for four years has suggested to Congress that it might be wise to start by counting who most needs help with health insurance and prescription drugs before enacting hugely expensive new programs.

For example, Crippen said that less than half of the 41 million uninsured are without coverage for 12 months or more. The other 20 million are between jobs, between spousal coverage, and between public programs. The average period without health insurance is seven months, and 40% are uninsured for fewer than four months.

We’ve said for years that many people are uninsured precisely because we so closely tie health insurance to the workplace in this country, forcing people to lose their health insurance when they change or lose their jobs and discriminating with subsidies against those who don’t have the option of job-based coverage.

The solution is not to decide that everyone needs to have the ?stability? of government-sponsored health insurance – heaven forbid – but to fix the system that kicks people off the insurance rolls so arbitrarily!

?Until the nature of the problem is clear, the solutions we devise may be ineffective and unnecessarily costly,? Crippen says. This could suggest targeting new programs to people who are chronically uninsured and have low incomes.

Crippen makes a similar point in talking about a Medicare drug benefit, saying it’s important for legislators to recognize that three-fourths of seniors already have coverage. If the government has limited money to spend, even the Washington Post recommends a targeted, low-income benefit.

None of this is to say that health insurance and drug coverage aren’t important for those who lack it. Only that Congress should take a careful look at how it plans to spend taxpayer money to make sure we get the results we expect.

I’m off to Chicago today to speak at a big National Council on the Aging conference and was in Florida earlier this month to speak at a ?Healthy Florida? retreat. The conversation over health reform continues, even as Washington is consumed by plans for war.

Please pray for our soldiers.

Grace-Marie Turner




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author