MINNEAPOLIS — Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) came to the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs to “shill” for the Healthy Americans Act he’s co-sponsoring with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Bennett insisted his bill was meant to expand the debate on health care policy with the hope that it could become the framework for real legislative action next year. The driving force behind the Wyden-Bennett bill is the belief that the health care system cannot be fixed without changing the tax code. Specifically, their plan targets the subsidies businesses receive to provide health care for their employers. Bennett explained that pensions and health care funded and managed by employers may have made sense in the 1930s, but that the success of 401(k)s in transforming the field of pensions shows consumer-centered health care reform can work.
Also on the panel was Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner, who had some material objections to the bill that largely mirror those made by Heritage senior policy analyst Nina Owchernko.
Turner worried about the second- and third-tier results of the individual mandate in the plan. Turner explained that in order to successfully implement any mandate, the federal government would have to heavily regulate which insurance plans met the individual mandate requirements and which did not. Special interests in Washington would inevitably add many requirements to health insurance plans that most consumers do not want or need. These new federal mandates would make health insurance unfordable for many more Americans.