Welcome to the Inaugural Issue of Health Care News

Published March 1, 2001

The year 2001 brought with it a new President, a new millennium, and another chance to put some common-sense back into social policy. It also brings the first issue of this publication, Health Care News.

From my perspective, the future of our health care system is certainly an issue of great importance to all Americans. Despite significant changes wrought by the previous administration, we continue to wrestle with the same health policy demons that occupied us in 1994 and before.

Experience helps us to find opportunities others miss or choose to ignore, and also to expect the unintended consequences of short-term solutions. Finally, experience teaches us that unless we get off the treadmill, we will, like the alcoholic, continue on the destructive path of bad choices that can only exacerbate our health care problems.

The cost of insurance and the attendant uninsured rate in this country are at historic highs. Medicare and Medicare need a serious overhaul if they are to faithfully serve the aging and the needy. Long-term care is a growing issue desperately in need of a solution. The security of medical information is of concern at both the private and government levels of the social order. An outdated federal approval process hamstrings efforts to bring new drugs and new medical technologies to the market in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Why Health Care News?

Given the persistence of these problems and repeated failed attempts to legislate their solution, I firmly believe there must be an increased level of awareness and knowledge of the issues at every level of society if we are to effectively improve our health care system.

Most journalists, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center report titled Media in the Middle, had a difficult time reporting health care reform issues “fairly and with accuracy.”

I wonder why mainstream media coverage of health care so often focuses on some “crisis of the month.” I wonder why we wait for an election year to evaluate health care social policy. And I want to know what will it take to stop thinking in circles and move forward with workable private-sector solutions.

When I no longer have to ask these questions, then I think it fair to say Health Care News and its readers made a difference.

Let’s be clear on this: It is not my intent to tell you what to think. That you must do for yourself. It is, however, my intent to give you something to think about.

To that end, Health Care News will report the latest news about health care reform, paying special attention to reforms that empower patients and their doctors by reducing the regulations and bureaucracy that distort incentives, increase prices, and violate privacy. We will keep pace with emerging trends and explore new ways to improve private-sector health care financing and restore a citizen’s right and ability to make sensible choices in a consumer-friendly market.

In this Issue

In our first issue, Dr. Merrill Matthews sheds some light on the Bush prescription plan. Greg Scandlen exposes myths about employer-sponsored health insurance. We interview Frank Mazur (R-Vermont) and get a feel for the warning tremors that signal a pending health care reform earthquake in Vermont. We also take a look at the post-election boost for market-based health care reform. Steve Barchet writes about the Archer Medical Savings Accounts, which were granted a two-year extension by last year”s Congress. Congressional Other stories include a look at the return of fee-for-service—the comeback kid of health care reform.

We call this monthly column My Turn–it’s like a letter-from-the-editor. Look us over and let me hear from you. I have saved a spot for your letters-to the-editor in Your Turn. Please keep your comments to 250 words and provide me with a phone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit your remarks for brevity and clarity.

You can write to me in care of Health Care News, The Heartland Institute, 19 South LaSalle Street #903, Chicago, IL 60603. Or drop me an email message at [email protected]. I really do look forward to hearing from you.