Carol Marin’s column on political plumber Joe Novak [“Has ‘Lo Blow Joe’ gone goo-goo, is there more to story?”] unexpectedly detoured into baseless and ill-informed attacks on J. Patrick Rooney and Health Savings Accounts.
I’ve known Pat Rooney for many years, and he’s no “right-wing ideologue.” During his many years as president and chairman of Golden Rule Insurance and since his retirement he has devoted countless hours to the cause of social justice, particularly helping poor children attend high-quality schools and giving low-income families acess to quality health care.
Rooney did, as Marin reports, help lay the groundwork for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which today give 3 million people access to affordable health insurance.
Marin parrots the left’s claim that HSAs “benefit the healthy and wealthy at the expense of the sick and poor,” but in fact nearly half of the people with HSAs have annual incomes of less than $50,000 and 37 percent were previously uninsured. Moreover, while conventional health insurance has become too expensive for most families, two-thirds of people with HSAs pay $100 a month or less for their plans, and premiums actually fell 15 percent between 2004 and the first half of 2005. Joe Novak may be a political dirtball, as Marin suggests. But Pat Rooney can sleep well knowing he is helping millions of people get the medical care they need at a price they can afford.
Joseph L. Bast ([email protected]) is president of The Heartland Institute.