Reframing Health Care: Part I

19 Jun

I advocate Republicans once again be the party of ideas. Obama claims to be transformational, but in reality, his initial administration priorities seem to be refighting old fights (health insurance, Gitmo, Torture, Defense of Marriage, etc etc). R’s have an opportunity to reframe the old fights, and be the idea party again. We used to be so good at this that Dem’s wrote books on how to copy us.

So, let’s start by stealing and reframing healthcare. Currently, the Republicans are on the wrong side of the healthcare debate. To be fair, so are the Dems. Its time to start over talking about healthcare, by getting it back to healthcare.

Everyone repeat after me: we already have universal healthcare.

This gets confused because everyone seems to be arguing about health insurance. But the Frankenstein system of Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, SCHIP, co-ops and other systems is only the way we currently pay for healthcare, not the healthcare itself. Insurance is a parasite. It contributes nothing.


If you walk into an emergency room right now, with a broken leg, massive heart attack, or runny nose, you will receive free healthcare. If you are a child, SCHIP pays. If you are poor, Medicaid. If you are old, Medicare. If you are uninsured, the hospital takes a loss, and makes up that loss in charges to private insurance plans. This pre-existing condition of universal healthcare overwhelms any logical discussion of health insurance, because it immediately confirms that insurance is only an artificial bureaucracy placed on top of this system, whose sole purpose to create profit for private companies. Those private companies, however, are large campaign contributors, and often well liked by their customers. Thus the system contains great inertia, and is not easily changed.

Republicans need to reframe the debate by reclaiming the position as the party of competence, efficiency, and good government. They need to do this by dropping the insurance arguments, and steal the healthcare talk from the Dems. America has the best healthcare in the world, and the most inefficient. For example, our healthcare costs per capita are double Germany, Canada and France, and triple the UK and Japan. Republicans need to attack those inefficiencies, of which insurance company profit is the most obvious. Instead of fear mongering about government incompetence, lay out a conservative path for efficient and effective government to be able to act as the healthcare payer, not the healthcare provider or arbiter of care.

As I have said before, Republicans have lost the small government argument. Americans don’t want small government, and Republicans certainly can’t provide it. As George Will has said, the natural result of Reagan Republicanism is bigger government, not smaller, because it held the American people blameless for their desire for services, but blamed government for its problems. Instead of blaming the government, of which Republicans are a part, they could try to improve it. Americans want effective government, and Republicans could steal the debate by showing how government can be part of the solution.

But why should government be part of the healthcare solution at all?

Coming Soon: Part II – A Republican’s Business and National Security Case for Universal Healthcare

10 Responses to “Reframing Health Care: Part I”

  1. Jim Ostrowski June 19, 2009 at 11:32 pm #

    The Republicans always were a big government party so it’s odd to say they lost the argument for small government. We haven’t had a party of small government since Grover’s era. That’s the problem.

  2. Ethan June 20, 2009 at 11:10 am #


    “Americans don’t want small government” That is why you are and will remain on the fringe: you’re nearly an anarchist.

    Brian: if R’s want to reframe the debate, they can start by dropping the alarmist and frankly disingenuous language which they’re using. Fear-mongering about “socalism” (as if Sweeden is some hellhole nobody could possibly want to live in) is definitely counter-productive

  3. Jim Ostrowski June 20, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    That’s what I said on April 18th but thanks for the info.

    You failed to respond to my comment though.

  4. Brian Castner June 20, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Jim: Republicans were a party of small-government-in-theory with the rise of Goldwater in the ’60’s. Reagan cemented the conservative small-government-in-theory grip in 1980, and it ran its course until 2008, with the GWB led defeat of the Republican Party in general. That the party did not live up to its own agenda doesn’t change the fact that it had one.

    Ethan: I’m sure R’s would be happy to stop fear mongering about Socialism at about the point the Dem’s stop hyperventilating about Bush being the worst president in history, and Cheney being the devil. My point is that there is a golden opportunity for Republicans to steal the debate and reframe it, because the Dem’s are a mess on healthcare.

  5. Jim Ostrowski June 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    Reagan made government bigger. So did Nixon, Ford, and both Bushes.

    The GOP was founded as a progressive, big government party by Lincoln , et al. and except for Harding after a war, none of its presidents ever substantially shrank government.

    Obviously, when the limited government position is set forth by such a bunch of phonies, no real debate has taken place.

  6. Ethan June 22, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    I’m not going to defend the Democrats–I’m not one–but Bush was a horrible president without doubt and Cheney continues to impress with his, yes, fearmongering. The “1% doctrine” is nothing but, in fact. His thoughts on near limitless executive power are also way, way out of line.

    However, I don’t see how that has anything much to do with healthcare. As in, I don’t see Dems using “Bush” to rebut arguments about healthcare; that strikes me as a specious response. The Republican’s need to drop the language they’re using, I think we agree on that. Government involvement in healthcare is taken for granted in most of the rest of the world, and it is time for us to catch up. What the final form will be is certainly a reasonable debate to have, and it should be absent crazy hyperbole about “Socialism.” It should also proceed without worry about how it might adversely affect the extant “industry.” This is more important that keeping Kalida in business.

    Jim: You are a narcissist, shouting in the wind. Like I was *supposed* to respond to your long-winded blarney, which I wasn’t even aware of? Whatever.

  7. Buffalopundit June 23, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    As usual, Ostrowski hijacks the discussion with impromptu irrelevance.

    Jim and his Austrian buddies are welcome to buy a plot of land somewhere in the world and set up their non-interventionist free market utopia.

    The rest of us will continue to reside here in reality.

    Brian – good points here. Frankly, I’d be heartened to see a bipartisan push for this kind of change in dialogue with respect to health care. A fundamental overhaul in the way health care is handled from cradle to grave is needed to avoid catastrophe.

  8. Brian Castner June 23, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    You’d be heartened for a bipartisan dialogue? That means it probably won’t happen.

  9. Jim Ostrowski June 26, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Obviously, I didn’t hijack the discussion. Never have, never will. What I said was directly responsive to the post.

    Very sad that I have to correct the bilge.

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