Why Won’t Republicans Advocate Free Market Healthcare?

Instead of advocating free market healthcare, we get tax credit or tax deduction schemes that don’t get to the root of the problem.

Liberals are constantly railing against Republicans for deregulating. Wouldn’t it be nice if their attacks were accurate?

Daniel Payne writes at the Federalist under the headline, “GOP Obamacare Replacements Keep The Feds Front And Center.”

As Megan McArdle recently reported, both Scott Walker and Marco Rubio recently released their plans for repealing and replacing Obamacare with an “Obamacare alternative.” Bobby Jindal also has a detailed policy proposal for a “conservative consumer-focused health reform.”

All three of these plans have some good ideas—for instance, Jindal’s calls for ending state certificate-of-need programs, which let bureaucrats decide if a new hospital or other health facility should be built—but all three suffer from the curious defect of modern American health-care policy: a plan that turns on tax-based assistance for health insurance.

Basically, all of these programs seem to think the government has to motivate health insurers and health care providers to offer as much as possible as cheaply as possible to as many people as possible. But that simply isn’t true. Without customers, industries don’t exist. They only prosper by getting more customers.

Shouldn’t Republicans be at the forefront of liberating that process?

Yet whatever the relative merits of either type of plan, all remain fundamentally flawed. They accept the strange notion that government should engage in a kind of carrot-and-stick tax-incentivizing scheme to make health insurance more accessible for the average American. No matter how radically the candidates pledge to reform the health-care industry, their plans to do so are disappointingly pedestrian from a wonkish point of view.

We’ve been here before, after all. Consumer-oriented health-care reform is a great idea, but there is nothing consumer-oriented about a reliance on the byzantine, hopelessly complex tax code and a dependence upon the absurdly inefficient American health-insurance system.

What we need is more creative destruction. Payne says healthcare should be more like Uber. One obvious way this could be done is by ending certificate-of-need requirements that basically give existing hospitals monopolies that boost prices. No one is permitted to build another hospital unless they get a bureaucrat’s permission on the grounds that there is an underserved area that needs such a hospital.

How much would food cost if grocery stores had the power to stifle new competition in that way?

Republicans should be at the forefront of such arguments and such reform efforts. But that is not what we see from Republican candidates.