David Gratzer

It’s not simply the cost, of course, that is so problematic with the New York approach to health reform. It’s the end result: many opt not to buy insurance in the first place. These regulations and taxes, aimed at making health insurance fair, end up making it unaffordable.

In a recent analysis, researchers Steve Parente and Tarren Bragdon look at New York State. They find that repealing regulations would lower premiums and help as many as 37% of the uninsured there to buy private, unsubsidized coverage. It would also help reserve scarce tax dollars for the poorest and sickest New Yorkers. Call it the 1992 reform: turning the clock back on more than a decade and a half of failed experimentation.

With Albany messing up health insurance, it’s no surprise that the most innovative reform has come from the Freelancers Union, which allows its tens of thousands of New York members to group together and opt out of the individual insurance market – and thus the regulation insanity.

But Congress isn’t asking why the Freelancers Union wants to walk away from the regulatory debacle. Congressmen just voted for a bill that contains all three bad New York ideas: a mechanism to regulate every health-insurance policy, a flat premium for all Americans, and a raft of new taxes.

Soon, if ObamaCare is implemented, the future of American health care will be New York. Unless, of course, the Senate sets aside these provisions in the bill passed by the House.

But the Senate leadership is on record supporting legislation that would create a committee charged with deciding what would be a “basic” health insurance policy, with unelected Washington bureaucrats having the power to add regulations – like orthotics – as they see fit without any Congressional approval. While the final Senate draft legislation will not be available for days, this much is already clear: Democrats in both the House and the Senate think health reform should include everything from the feet on up.

Americans should remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Or free orthotics.

David Gratzer

Dr. David Gratzer, a physician, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. David Gratzer's most recent book is Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster (Encounter Books, 2009).