Lost in all the uproar over the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28 “Obamacare” ruling was the crucial link between health-care reform and the issue voters care most about: the economy. America’s current health-care “system” isn’t just an ungainly, costly, and unjust mess. It also undercuts the United States’ ability to compete and win in world markets.
Amid the debate over “American decline,” this connection deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting. To revive U.S. international competitiveness, the country clearly needs to rein in runaway health-care costs. But it has to be done in the right way — not just by clamping down on spending, but also by boosting medical innovation and productivity.
Now that the court has upheld the individual mandate requiring most citizens to obtain health insurance, U.S. policymakers would ideally turn to the challenge of medical cost containment. This is unlikely to happen, however, because Republicans have vowed to make the repeal of the Affordable Care Act a centerpiece of their 2012 campaign message. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney dutifully promised Thursday to kill the “bad law,” even though it’s conceptually identical to the Massachusetts health plan he backed while governor of the state.
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