Richardson’s “Universal Health Coverage” is More of the Same

Governor Richardson claims to be a “market Democrat,” but the “universal” health care proposal that his campaign announced today can only be called a disappointment to believers in the free market.
Details of his plan are as follows:

* Coverage – Guaranteed Coverage for All Americans with Real Choices: Bill Richardson believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing affordable health coverage for all Americans.Nor does he believe in creating new bureaucracies. Under a Richardson administration all Americans will have affordable coverage choices through 1) the same plan as members of Congress; 2) Medicare for those 55-64; 3) Medicaid and SCHIP for lower income families; 4) existing family coverage for young adults up to age 25; and 5) a Heroes Health Card and stronger Veterans Administration for veterans;
* Costs – Making Health Care Affordable for All: Bill Richardson believes that everyone must share responsibility for making the system work. He believes that 1) All Americans should be required to have coverage; 2) Employers should be required to do their fair share to contribute to a healthy and covered work force; 3) A sliding-scale tax credit should be available for Americans who need help affording coverage; 4) American families should get immediate relief from high interest rates for medical debt placed on credit cards. As President, Richardson will save the government up to $110 billion per year to invest in quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans, by streamlining health care administration and investing in prevention;
* Care – Improving Quality of Care for All Americans: Bill Richardson believes that all Americans deserve access to affordable, high-quality health care. Richardson will work to improve quality of care for all Americans by: 1) Promoting evidence-based care and comparative effectiveness research; 2) Promoting transparency on price and quality of health care; 3) Restructuring incentives for high-quality care; 4) Improving patient safety; 5) Ensuring an adequate health care workforce; and 6) Reducing health disparities.

For starters, Richardson may not believe in “creating new bureaucracies,” but that doesn’t mean he won’t dramatically-expand the current, broken bureaucracies. Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, and the Veterans Administration all face significant issues. I hardly think that expanding these programs/agencies is the answer to our health care problems.
Of course, Richardson is not the only Democrat heading down the misguided path to “universal coverage.” The problem is that so-called universal coverage is likely to be a disaster no matter which party ultimately passes it.