Calling All Conservatives

The most important thing to happen to health care reform this year is not Michael Moore’s film SiCKO. It is an editorial in the July 9 issue of National Review.

National Review’s editors declared that conservatives and other free-market advocates should reject the goal of “universal coverage” that has seduced health care reformers left, right, and center. The editors write:

[T]o achieve universal coverage would require either having the government provide it to everyone or forcing everyone to buy it…

The health-care debate has centered on the uninsured. That so many people do not have health insurance is a consequence of foolish government policies…

Republicans should go in a different direction, proposing market reforms that make insurance more affordable and portable. If such reforms are implemented, more people will have insurance…

Some people, especially young and healthy people, may choose not to buy health insurance even when it is cheaper…Forcing them to get insurance would…lead to a worse health-care system for everyone because it would necessitate so much more government intervention. So what should the government do about the holdouts? Leave them alone. It’s a free country.

Libertarians and conservatives have fought a decades-old war over the direction the conservative movement should take on health care reform. One such skirmish will take place at a Cato Institute Capitol Hill briefing this Thursday on the Massachusetts health plan.

The editors of National Review have planted their flag on the side of less government and more freedom. Kudos to them. That should help conservatives coalesce around health care reforms that explicitly reduce the role of government, thereby enabling markets to make health care of ever-increasing quality available to an ever-increasing number of people.