The NYT on Conservative Health Care Plans

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Neither the New York Times nor Uwe Reinhardt is under any obligation to say anything at all about the op-ed that Yuval Levin and I had in the Wall Street Journal last week, the one where we sketched a conservative alternative to Obamacare and made the political case for Republicans’ embracing something like it. Pretending to address the op-ed while ignoring it, on the other hand, seems like bad form.

Reinhardt mentions the op-ed and then writes that we “leave many details of their plan unsaid. But I see in it a close cousin of a much more fully developed plan, published by eight distinguished health economists as a monograph commissioned by the American Enterprise Institute.” He proceeds to describe and critique that other plan.

At the 30,000-feet level, there may be some similarities between what Levin and I advocated and the plan Reinhardt writes about. But the differences are pretty substantial. Reinhardt lists nine features of the economists’ plan; ours shares at most one of them. And none of his criticisms of the economists’ plan applies to ours. We don’t, for example, envision any government-established exchange.

Reinhardt seems to have only a hazy idea of what conservatives think about health care, which is maybe a good reason not to write about the topic.