Obama Offers Bargain-Basement Solution to Health Care

Published June 5, 2007

Dear Editor:

Robin Toner reports on Sen. Barack Obama’s May 29 speech in Iowa, proposing his plans for health care reform. Sen. Obama proposes that employer mandates and taxes, elimination of tax cuts for families with incomes greater than $250,000, and an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid will produce a comprehensive solution that will cost $65 billion “when fully phased in.”

No serious health care analyst has ever proposed such a bargain-basement solution to the nation’s health care needs. One might say such a serious error in Sen. Obama’s approach discredits him or his advisors. Sen. Obama also ignores or minimizes the upward trend in health care costs and utilization and the demographic bulge of aging that will blow the top off health care costs in the next 20 years. Sixty-five billion dollars is an impossible bargain now and certainly will be in the future.

Toner comments that “small business backlash” killed the Clinton health care plan and that health care is the “home terrain” of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. But health care policy-making is not so much home terrain for Sen. Clinton as it is the scene of her most spectacular failure and embarrassment.

Sen. Obama would be well-advised not to repeat the Clinton mistakes. Moreover, he needs to avoid the appearance of giving a speech on an important issue without adequate study, analysis, and advice.

John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. ([email protected]) teaches emergency medicine in Fort Hood, Texas and is a resident of Brownwood. He is a policy analyst for The Heartland Institute.