Larry Kudlow

Why do we need President Obama’s big-bang health-care reform at all? What’s the real agenda here? If it’s really to cover the truly uninsured, a much cheaper, targeted, small-ball approach would do the trick. But on the other hand, maybe the real goal is a larger, ultra-liberal plan aimed at a government takeover of the U.S. health system.

In a recent column, Larry Elder points to an ABC News/USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation survey that shows 89 percent of Americans are satisfied with their health care. That means up to 250 million people could be happy with their plans. So why is it that we need Obama’s big-bang health-care overhaul in the first place?

In a new Pew Research Center poll, only 41 percent of those surveyed believe the U.S. health-care system needs to be completely rebuilt. In early 1993, when Mr. and Mrs. Clinton started on health-care reform, 55 percent said the system needs a complete overhaul. So something has changed.

In a new CBS/New York Times poll, 38 percent say the economy is the most important problem facing the country, 19 percent say jobs, and only 7 percent say health care. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on the same question, 24 percent say the budget deficit is today’s most worrisome problem while only 11 percent say health care.

There’s more. According to the U.S. Census Bureau we don’t have 47 million folks who are truly uninsured. When you take college kids plus those earning $75,000 or more who choose not to sign up for a health-care plan, roughly 20 million people are removed from the list of uninsured. After that you can remove the 10 million who are not U.S. citizens and the 11 million who are eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid but for some reason have not signed up for those programs.

So that leaves only 10 million to 15 million people among the long-term uninsured.

Yes, they need help. And yes, they should get it. But not with mandatory universal coverage, or new government-backed insurance plans, or massive tax increases. And certainly not with the Canadian-European-style nationalization that has always been the true goal of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

Instead, we can give the truly uninsured vouchers or debit cards that will allow for choice and coverage, and even health savings accounts for retirement wealth. According to expert Betsy McCaughey, rather than several trillion dollars and socialized medicine, this voucher approach would cost only $25 billion a year -- with no socialized medicine.

Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.