Mr. Obama’s big proposal

President Obama’s much-anticipated health care address last night fell short of the groundbreaking proposals one might have expected from the hype.

The President has firmed up support for a few ideas – individual and employer mandates that force people to enroll themselves, or their employees, in an insurance plan, and asserted his support for a government-run insurance company (though he didn’t call the “public option” a dealbreaker). He also reminded Americans that he supports choice and competition, even though the insurance mandates he’s set on seem to be opposed to both.

Talk about tort reform was welcomed by Republicans and physicians, but free-marketers know that the types of reforms Mr. Obama is proposing aren’t the ones that will make a difference. As Cato’s Shirley Svorny put it:

Medical malpractice underwriters protect consumers by identifying problem physicians, limiting their practice, creating penalties for substandard care. If you put caps on damages, there will be less underwriting and that means less oversight and fewer incentives for physicians to meet accepted standards of care.

A plan to impose a fee on companies issuing high-end insurance plans – something that could hit unions along with the lawyers and bankers it’s probably targeting – was a new development, and perhaps a sign of the types of rationing America can expect under ObamaCare to keep costs down.

Finally, the President’s support for eliminating insurers’ ability to price their plans according to risk stays strong, despite all the problems that can cause.

You can replay Cato’s liveblogging of the President’s speech here.


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