Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Insure the Uninsured" but "Do Health Care Right"

My friend Charles Krauthammer is a brilliant man.  He is a Harvard Medical School educated physican and psychiatrist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator on contemporary cultural and political matters.  I got to know him when we served together on the President's Council on Bioethics.  I found him to be a powerful ally when we agreed (as we did on the question of producing human embryos by cloning for biomedical research) and a formidable opponent when we disagreed (as we did on the question of public funding for research involving the destruction of IVF "spare" embryos).  Like me, Charles is a refugee from the Democratic Party.  He is a former speechwriter for Walter Mondale.  Although he is skeptical of American liberal and European social-democratic ideology, he is by no means reflexively hostile to government.  He grew up in Canada and knows both the Canadian and U.S. healthcare systems very well, not only from the perspective of a doctor but also from that of a patient.  Charles is paralyzed as a result of an injury many years ago, and is confined to a wheelchair. In his column in today's Washington Post, he takes up the question of healthcare reform.  His criticisms of the Democrats' proposals are scathing, to say the least.  But he does not think that we should just stick with the status quo.  Although he says that "the United States has the best healthcare in the world," he also observes that it is riddled with inefficiencies that make it much too expensive, and it unnecessarily leaves many people uninsured.  "Insuring the uninsured," he says, "is a moral imperative" (and I agree), but "the Democrats have chosen the worst possible method -- a $1 trillion new entitlement of stupefying arbitrariness and inefficiency."  The bill now pending in the Senate he says, "is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool."  But then the Congress and President Obama should "do health care the right way -- one reform at a time, each simple and simplifying, aimed at reducing complexity, arbitrariness and inefficiency."  He makes some specific proposals in the areas of tort reform, abolishing the prohibition of buying health insurance across state lines, and taxing employer-provided health insurance (which Dr. K, argues is "an accrued inefficiency of 65 years, an accident of World War II wage controls [that] creates a $250 billion annual loss of federal revenue -- the largest tax break for individuals in the entire federal budget").  You can read the column here: 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/25/AR2009112503607.html

https://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2009/11/my-friend-charles-krauthammer-is-a-brilliant-man-he-is-a-harvard-medical-school-educated-physican-and-psychiatrist-and-a-pul.html

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