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Tuesday, October 9, 2007
posted by Kyle Hampton | 12:05 PM | permalink
In advance of the debate tonight, I wanted to talk a little about a headline that has popped up again of late: That Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan is similar to the one that Hillary Clinton has put out. As always, I am not an expert myself, but there seem to be even basic differences between the two.

Let’s start with what the story says are the similarities:
Like Clinton's plan, the law Romney signed in April 2006 is underpinned by an "individual mandate" compelling people to buy health insurance. Both plans entail subsidies and government regulations.
Of course, if you get out to the abstraction that this article does any healthcare plan would look similar to the Massachusetts plan. That both plans “entail subsidies and government regulations” essentially tells us nothing. The Giuliani plan contains both subsidies and government regulations as does the Edwards plan. No one would argue that all of these plans are essentially the same. Yet somehow our journalists are unable to see the differences.

That leaves us with the individual mandate. Yet are all individual mandates the same? Let’s take and compare the different healthcare plans with a much more familiar topic of universal coverage: education.

Hillary Clinton’s plan very much resembles the current state of our educational system. While allowing individuals to elect private coverage, it provides coverage for anyone who doesn’t opt out, much like our current education system allows for students to elect private schools while still providing public schools.

The Massachusetts plan is much more like Milton Friedman’s proposals for school choice. While not rebuking the mandate for children to be educated, Friedman reasoned that shifting the tax support from producers (the schools) to consumers (the students) would result in marked improvement in the educational system. Similarly, the Massachusetts plan shifted tax dollars from producers of healthcare (hospitals and doctors) to consumers of healthcare. The redirection of tax dollars from producers to consumers aligns the correct incentives and interests to induce a better product.

Yes it is true that both the current education system and Friedman’s school choice proposals would both entail and individual mandate, subsidies, and government regulation. Yet, that level of abstraction hides the significant differences between two different views of how to accomplish a goal, one reliant on government top-down commands, the other using a bottom-up market approach.


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Is it just me or if there were any similarities between Hillary and Mitt's plan, wouldn't the headline read "Hillary's Plan is Similar to Mitt's Plan?" since he had this law written, passed, and in motion long before she talked about this "new and improved plan".

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