Yglesias on the sensible conservative alternative to health care reform

Matt Yglesias gets this exactly right this morning: The sensible conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act is the Affordable Care Act:

If you simply do what Ponnuru and Levin propose, every insurance company will be competing to make a profit that’s attractive to young men with no chronic health problems and unappealing to everyone else. To turn this idea into an idea that actually works for people with medical needs you need to do three things. One, you need to prevent firms from turning customers away because of their health status or demographic characteristics. Two, you need some kind of regulatory definition of the minimum benefits that need to be offered in order to qualify as “health insurance” that’s eligible for the tax credit. And three, you need some kind of penalty for failing to enroll yourself in a plan to ensure the existence of a viable risk pool. What you need, in other words, is the Affordable Care Act and its regulate/subsidize/mandate tripod structure.

I don’t think it can be reiterated enough: Despite the fact that conservatives smeared the Affordable Care Act as some sort of socialist takeover of the health care system, it is, in fact, a very conservative, free-market oriented approach to health care reform – and it’s full of ideas that conservatives not only should love, but many ideas that conservatives actually developed: including the now-reviled individual mandate.

Had the Affordable Care Act been introduced by Republicans as a response to a single-payer proposal from Obama – something that could honestly be called a “government takeover of health care,” conservatives undoubtedly would have embraced it.

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