I woke the other day to NPR to hear Republican senator Orrin Hatch saying “To be clear, it is a disgrace that so many American families go without health insurance coverage.” I was nearly ecstatic; to agree that something is a problem is the first step to getting together to solve it. And, surely, that something is “a disgrace” is even worse than being a problem. I turned up the radio to find out how Sen. Hatch and the Republicans were going to solve it. Unfortunately, that was not to be. It was a sound bite in a story by Julie Rovner titled “GOP Says Coverage For The Uninsured Is No Longer The Priority” (July 27, 2012). I hadn’t known it ever was a priority for the GOP, but this piece laid any doubts to rest. Worse than the double-talk from Hatch was Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, in this excerpt:
McConnell: "Let me tell you what we're not going to do. We're not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system. That is exactly what is at the heart of Obamacare. They want to have the federal government take over all of American health care."
By "Western European," McConnell means government-run or primarily government-run. Western European countries also pretty much don't have people who don't have health insurance. And by the way, there are closer to 50 million Americans without health insurance; 30 million is the number the health law is estimated likely to cover.
We will still have a shortage of doctors until the pipeline fills, but such a system will decrease the financial impetus to be yet another subspecialist in a metropolitan area that already has enough, and increase the impetus to become a generalist in an underserved area. If we are to depend on the market, this is the kind of market-based approach we need.