- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Giuliani’s health plan

The Washington Times deserves to be commended for drawing attention to the yawning credibility gap between the Republicans and Democrats regarding meaningful health care reform (“All buzz, no math, from Giuliani,” Editorial, Saturday). Conservative think thanks brag of leading the fight against “socialized health care” while offering no meaningful alternative. A $15,000 tax deduction for families, proposed by Rudolph W. Giuliani, does not address the absurdity of why a middle-class family should have to pay that cut of its modest budget. Even blindly standing against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) expansion is borderline political suicide, especially among pivotal independent voters.

The Republicans believe parents making a certain amount should be able to afford private insurance for their families. Maybe, but the fact is, millions of children still are uninsured. This is politically untenable, as about 11 percent are crying out for relief and coverage security. Health care reform is in the inevitable march of events.

The honest critique of Mr. Giuliani’s plan gives him a chance to reassess, to get out in front of the health-care debate and to show real leadership. Health-care reform is not a business decision; it is a moral one and one that is on the right side of history.

KEN BALDWIN

Ellicott City, Md.

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The Washington Times misses the mark with its criticism of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s bold, free-market ideas for improving America’s health care system.

Mr. Giuliani’s approach to reform — rooted in individual empowerment and competition — takes us in the opposite direction of the government mandate-based plans of other candidates running for president. With the latest of his 12 Commitments to the American People, the former New York City mayor has now set out his markers for how he’d like to increase the quality, affordability and portability of health care using consumer-driven solutions.

Mr. Giuliani delivered the first of his health-care speeches emphasizing that the United States needed a new framework for health-care financing that builds on the successes of the current medical system by utilizing the free-market system more and not less as proposed by the major Democratic candidates. His plan wisely starts with principles, since more money badly invested in the current system will produce substantial harm.

He suggests that families should have more, not less authority. This can be done in part through a new tax-free income exclusion, free from income tax and payroll taxes, of up to $15,000 for Americans without employer-based coverage.

After buying coverage, Americans could fund a tax-free health savings account with more flexibility and less regulations than ever before. He also proposed other substantial reforms, including that states give citizens the right to buy policies with Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program financing, and refundable health-care tax credits targeted to those most in need, the previously ignored two-thirds of the uninsured comprising low income workers.

These new reforms would help create powerful incentives for more Americans to shop for private portable health insurance, driving competitive markets for cheaper and more tailored insurance products, increasing consumer choices and reducing dependency on employers for coverage.

Mr. Giuliani did something that no other candidate has yet done: He laid out bold principles to get affordable coverage for all Americans, and that coverage would offer what that they actually want, rather than what government decrees for them.

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