The Week In Blog: Conservative Health Care Follies

Bill Scher

Over at Bloggingheads.tv, Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll and I offer another installment of The Week In Blog.

Conn and I discussed blogger reaction to McCain’s health care plan, which largely draws from the plan supported by the conservative Heritage Foundation. You can watch that particular segment below.

A few things struck me during that segment:

1. Conn has no expectations that such a radical plan would pass Congress even if McCain became president. While his low expectations appeared rooted in the conservative movement view that McCain is bad messenger for conservative policies, there is an implicit recognition that people with employee health benefits are not eager to junk them.

2. When I noted that putting all the cost burden on working families would force families to go to the doctor less — getting less preventative care which drives up costs overall — Conn chose not to respond directly. Instead he offered what will likely become a familiar conservative sound bite: you don’t have your employer provide your car insurance, why should it provide health insurance?

As usual from the conservative movement, that’s an oversimplified question.

The reality is that some people have employer health benefits that they like, some people have employer benefits that are skimpy, and some people don’t have health benefits at all.

Responsible reform, like the Health Care for America plan, fixes what isn’t working while leaving alone what is.

A reckless and radical scheme that throws everybody overboard to fend skyrocketing health costs by themselves is not going to do anything for people who are struggling, and not going to go down well with people who are well covered.

McCain has gone the radical route, which brings me to my final observation…

3. Conn was not concerned that the contrast in health plans that voters will surely see from the two final presidential candidates would harm the broader conservative effort to further privatize the health system, as he did not believe this contrast would become a focal point of the campaign.

We’ll see. True, there are many opportunities for contrast come November. But health care looks to be a big one.

And the conservative offering — throwing more folks overboard without much of a life preserver — has little chance to be embraced by the public.

Which means this is a great opportunity for progressives to engage this debate, and show that conservatives are as trustworthy on health security as they were on Social Security.

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