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Turner: Rasmussen has it Wrong

By Grace-Marie Turner

Opinion pollster Scott Rasmussen’s last column has an odd, and uncharacteristically misinformed, take on the health reform agendas of President Obama and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.

In “To Fix Health Care System, Put Consumers in Charge,” Rasmussen puts them in the same bucket, saying “neither one puts consumers in charge of their own health care decisions.”

That could not be more wrong.

Rasmussen says in his column:

President Obama's plan is unpopular, and most want to see it repealed. Ryan's plan is unpopular, and few want to see it enacted. Both plans are unpopular because neither one puts consumers in charge of their own health care decisions. More than anything else, that lack of consumer control is the root cause of the health care problems facing our nation today.

The column seems to be mixing apples and oranges. ObamaCare is a complete reengineering of our entire $2.7 trillion health sector, centralizing Washington control over virtually every aspect of health spending and health care. The Ryan plan that generated the most media attention was his plan to rescue Medicare from virtually certain collapse by giving seniors much more control over their health coverage and allowing them to pick from among competing plans that have incentives to answer to seniors, not Washington bureaucrats. If Rasmussen is talking about Ryan’s overall health reform plan, then he is even more misguided because it is all about consumer choice.

Rasmussen says that neither Obama nor Ryan puts consumers in control of choices. Wrong. The Ryan plans for both Medicare reform and overall health reform are centrally focused on giving consumers more choices in a competitive marketplace.

Ryan’s plans to incentivize greater individual ownership and control over health insurance and his plan to modernize Medicare and save it for future generations are both organized around the idea of putting “consumer in charge of their own health care choices.” Rasmussen is correct that this lack of control is “the root cause of the health care problems facing our nation today.”

It is telling, and important, that Rasmussen’s research shows that 82 percent of Americans believe that workers, not employers, should be able to choose their own health plan. He also finds that “77 percent think individuals should have the right to choose between plans with a mix of higher deductibles and lower premiums or the reverse.”

So does Paul Ryan. That is exactly the direction that Ryan’s plan would take us through his plan based upon a defined contribution model for health insurance. He calls for “strengthening the relationship between the patient and the doctor.” He supports “using the forces of choice and competition rather than rationing and restrictions to contain costs.” That is in absolute contrast to the top-down, centralized control of ObamaCare, with more than 159 new boards, commissions, agencies, and programs to dictate the practice of medicine from Washington.

Scott Rasmussen is a master at opinion polling, but it might behoove him not to put Ryan and Obama in the same bucket. Their two plans and visions could not possibly be more different.

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Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a non-profit research organization focused on free-market health reform.

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1 Comment

  1. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    July 11, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

    Tort reform is a must to bring down costs!

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