Monday, October 20, 2008

Mike Munger does something else too sane for him to get elected: actually answers the AP questions on health care

You can visit here to find the prevarications and empty promises from Democrat Bev Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory when asked three very specific questions about health care. What the hell, you've heard them all before.

Like his responses or not, however, Libertarian candidate for North Carolina governor Michael Munger actually gave straight answers to the questions:

1. An estimated 1.4 million residents of North Carolina, including 250,000 children, lack health care insurance. What steps would you take in your first year in office to reduce those figures?

1. The premise of the question is false. The goal is NOT to maximize the number of people who have health care provided at no cost to themselves, and paid for by everyone else. That doesn’t add up. If I paid for your car’s upkeep, and you paid for mine, we’d both do a bad job with oil changes and maintenance. We’d spend more than we should, for lower quality autos.

What is necessary is to ensure that health care is affordable, and universally available. I would take two steps.

First, ensure competition and increased availability of primary care. License more physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners, to perform many basic diagnostic tasks. Make it possible for health care consumers to have low cost, high quality, care with short waits and little paperwork. We don’t have oil change insurance, after all. Instead, we have accident insurance, for major unexpected events that are devastating and very expensive.

Second, provide vouchers for insurance for those who can’t afford it. We don’t have government grocery stores; we have WIC cards, and food stamps. So, we don’t need government provided health care. We need a way to support the people who can’t afford health care. Why not a WIC program for health care, with private choice?

2. The state employee’s health insurance plan is in danger of running out of money, and its high premiums are a turnoff to younger state workers with families. A 2006 consultant’s report found that North Carolina needs an additional $23.8 billion to cover the future health care expenses for all current and future state government retirees. What actions would you take during your first term to turn around the plan?

2. “Needs” an additional $23.8 billion? No. We “need” to hold down costs. Competition in health care provision would cut that bill in half. Our problem is that we want to help people pay, but we are taking away their pay, and their tax money, to do it. Instead, we need to let the market work to hold down costs. Right now, the only place there is competition is at the level of HMO’s forcing doctors to provide substandard care, and dismiss people from the hospital too soon. That has to change.

3. In 1995, the Legislature cut the state’s abortion fund from $1.2 million to $50,000, effectively keeping the state from assisting low-income women without Medicaid coverage seeking an abortion. Would you support restoring money to the abortion fund? Would you support any further restrictions on abortion in North Carolina beyond the current law requiring parental consent for minors, such as mandated counseling or a 24-hour waiting period?

3. The state should not provide funding specifically for abortion, or other operations. However, a “health care voucher” program, as described above, could be used to offset costs of any private insurance plan. If that plan covers abortions, or anything else, then that is between the person and the provider. It is none of the state’s business.

Imagine a fantasy world where all candidates actually answered the questions.

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