Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Put Health Decisions Back Where They Belong

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Put Health Decisions Back Where They Belong

Article excerpt

Once again the federal government's going to fix our health care. The president has appointed a new Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

In order to justify more intervention in health care, the commission tries to capitalize on the fact that nearly half of employees nationwide are offered only one health plan. Many of those plans are health maintenance organizations and other types of managed-care plans that restrict health care choices. The commission's solution? Create a bill of patient rights and responsibilities, and then mandate those recommendations through regulation.

Will this restore true free choice in health care? No, and here's why. The commission: * Does nothing to place the decision of who buys health care back in the hands of the people. Courts have determined that if government pays for a portion of health care, then beneficiaries must play by government rules. * Increases the role of government officials, union leaders, and special interest groups in deciding what types of health care are to be covered. * Increases government's role in deciding how individuals should maintain their health regimes and related lifestyles. The commission has already taken the role of deciding what the appropriate diet is for all Americans. Already, the commission plans to impose its patient bill of rights and responsibilities on more than 46 million Americans enrolled in government public health programs - Medicare and Medicaid recipients, military personnel and veterans, and federal, state, and local government employees. There is a better way to handle today's lack of health-care choices: Place the decision of who buys health care back in the hands of individuals. One of the most efficient ways of giving consumers control over their health care is to change the way the tax code treats health insurance. …

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