Sunday, January 30, 2011

Health Care and the low quality of policy debate in state politics...

So I'm sitting here working on my economics homework--okay struggling with might be a better description--dealing with regulatory policy, monopoly, and the challenges of addressing market failure; and my mind keeps going back to one of the biggest frustrations of my state senate campaign was the failure of Republicans to accurately represent the complexity of the challenges we face when appropriately legislating/regulating/overseeing a market based economy.  Even worse was the fact that many of the questions being asked at forums had nothing whatsoever to do with issues that a state legislator would face.

For example, "are you for or against the new health care law?" is not really applicable to a state legislator.  "No matter whether you are for or against the new health care law, what challenges will our state face in implementing the new law?" would be an excellent question.  Especially because of the fact that the new health care law was written specifically focused on letting states manage and address the challenges of implementation.  I assume so that over time the best practices can be found by watching some states improve and some states fall behind--so that over time a better understanding of how we address health care costs and create a better functioning health care system.  As it stands with the status quo system we have there are major market failures.

The Left outside of the Democratic Party as well as the Liberal base wanted to see a single payer system implemented.  Moderates within the Democratic Party wanted to see a public option implemented so as to force the private sector to compete with the more efficient public sector.  Obama never pushed hard for the public option because his priority was to appease the health care industry so that the legislation could pass (at least in his eyes... its likely with the major public support across party lines of a public option that it could have passed through if Obama had put backbone behind it).  Instead what we got was a center right health care bill based off of proposals by the Heritage Foundation during the Clinton health care debates of the 90's.  We got RomneyCare.

But wheter a state house or senate candidate supports or opposes RomneyCare is really neither here nor there aside from a random discussion over a cup of coffee about national politics.

The challenges that the state of Georgia faces because of the new health care law would have been an excellent question.  

Unfortunately neither the moderators of the forums, the public questions, nor any of the other candidates I heard--across party lines--who spoke on the issue brought it up.  In face I'd say a large bulk of the candidates for state house or state senate---from either party--wouldn't have the slightest clue what in the world you were talking about.  While there are no easy answers, and even experts don't have the slightest clue of how to truly address the cost problem we face in our health care system legislators that at least understand the basics are shockingly lacking in our state legislature.

I've been churning on this post for a while trying to think through the issue and writing our the post at 1:51am probably isn't the most conducive way of constructing a clear argument. But then again this is a blog (read: anything goes as its not polished nor should it be).  Feel free to chime in as I'm sure some of my points/issues/context is not quite accurate (or at least properly worded) as i'm not trying to be snarky; I think its a serious problem we face.

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