Efficient Health Care: Making American Business More Competitive (October 23, 2006)

Charles Wilson, the General Motors executive who became a Secretary of Defense in the Eisenhower Administration, was asked if as Secretary he could make a decision adverse to the interests of his then-current employer.  He answered affirmatively but added that he could not believe that he would confront such a situation “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”  The response has been translated into the popular observation: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

What’s bad for GM is bad for the country.  The cost of health care is crippling American business.  The lack of health care is crippling individual Americans and undermining the family.  Resorting to bankruptcy in the face of overwhelming medical bills imposes a tremendous cost on society.  To make American companies competitive with companies in other countries, American companies should be relieved of providing and paying for health care.  This proposal represents a major departure from the settled practice since the end of World War II.  However, the market has failed.  The six or seven hundred private insurance companies deliver inadequate health care coverage to an insufficient percentage of the population.  The inefficient government is the most efficient provider.

In debates over free trade, some commentators note that foreign nations are assisting their domestic corporations by providing health care.  This competitive advantage rarely is calculated into discussions about tariffs and trade policy.  The Democrats should unite with GM to provide a rational and efficient national health care program.  Imagine the reaction if the United States Chamber of Commerce proposed an efficient national health care program?  Imagine.

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