Friday, August 14, 2009

Yeah! What HE Said: John Mackey Edition

Sometimes I read something that just makes me go "yeah, man! THAT's what I've been looking for!" Sometimes it's even something written by someone other than myself. This is one of those times.

John Mackey, weird product of weird Austin, vegan, rancher, collector of a $1 a year salary, donor of over $1m a year, libertarian, and CEO of Whole Foods, made an appearance on the WSJ Opinion page this week talking about practical, sensible fixes for health care. Thanks Obama for finally motivating good people to talk about some really good ideas. John's are as follows:

• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.
• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.
• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.
• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?
• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.


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