On his new policy blog at True/Slant, E.D. Kain provides a good defense of the Wyden-Bennett Act.
In Congress, however, we get bad compromises, not good ones, which is why we have the Baucus bill, which is neither as cost-effective, as close to universal coverage, or as fundamentally game-changing as Wyden-Bennett. Indeed, there is little to be enthusiastic about in the Baucus plan, which jealously protects the anti-competitive status-quo from any real changes, and thus — despite any analysis the CBO might put forth — does very little to challenge the fundamental problems which have led to such staggering health care cost increases in the United States.
There was, however, still a chance that the Baucus bill could be amended to bring more competition and cost-savings on board, and once again it’s the incorrigible Senator from Oregon, Ron Wyden, who introduced the Free Choice Act in the Senate Finance Committee. Basically Wyden’s proposal would open up the new health care exchanges to everybody no matter their employer’s coverage and no matter the size of their business.
Read the whole thing. Frankly, I’m baffled that the Republican Party hasn’t picked up Wyden-Bennett. It’s a much better reform proposal than the awful Baucus bill–which, awful as it is, still manages to be better than the status quo–and it’s also a more-market oriented reform. It’s not my ideal, but it’s a vast improvement. This would be a golden opportunity for the GOP to both steal the Democrats’ thunder and improve our hideous health care system. It’s win-win.
Instead, the Republican Party seems to be focused on simply opposing Obama, and the only significant “reform” being offered is the constant, anti-responsiblity drumbeat of “tort reform”: i.e. making physicians a special class of Americans who get to be protected from the consequences of their negligence.