If Mitt Romney is elected President he will repeal Obamacare. That simple promise makes health care (not jobs or taxes) the election outcome that will have the most immediate and powerful impact on our lives. Abolishing Obamacare would eliminate subsidies and therefore, the viability of the Exchange.
The Free Market Pitch
Romney says that unleashing the power of the free market will bring down costs and raise quality. Sounds good, but the free market doesn’t work when it comes to paying for health care. People don’t have the information available to evaluate doctors, hospitals, or treatments.The actual costs of medical services are hidden. Our insurance company has final say in what to buy or how much to spend. If the price isn’t right, we don’t have the power to say no. It’s not clear why Romney believes that competition among insurers will bring down costs, because that competition already exists, and yet it has done little to reduce health-care costs.
Cuts Spending Not Costs
But the truth is that Romney’s main concern isn’t to bring down over-all healthcare costs. What he wants is just to have the government less involved in health care. His plans would lower federal health-care spending, not because of the power of the free market, but because a Romney Administration would simply have the government do less. Romney would eliminate the Obamacare subsidies for health insurance. He would turn Medicaid into a block grant to the states and trim its annual budget, with the result that its funding would lag behind the rise in health-care costs. With these changes, the government would spend less, but only because it would provide less.
Is Health Care Government’s Responsibility?
Plenty of people think that guaranteeing affordable health insurance is not a core responsibility of government. Mitt Romney seems to be one of them. But plenty of people take the opposite view, and the premise of Obamacare is that health care is a collective good, like national defense—something that government has to help provide. The real issue, come November 6th, isn’t about who has the best ideas for controlling health-care costs. It’s about who has the right idea of what government should do.