Conservatism and Healthcare

Here's an interesting nugget in the radio debate yesterday between Limbaugh and Schwarzenegger:

RUSH: Now, wait a second. You want to extend health care coverage to every child even the children of illegal aliens, immigrants in the country, and you want to raise taxes to do this, and you call them "loans."

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER:  Well, Rush, I just said that we're reducing the hidden tax of $14.7 billion. We want to get rid of this hidden tax that is being made right now.

RUSH: But a tax is a tax.

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Billions -- every single --

RUSH: But if you replace the hidden tax with visible tax, it's still a tax.

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER:  No. Hold on a second. Every single person that is insured right now, is paying extra money. If it's the premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, copays, all of those things is more money because of the hidden tax because every time you get insurance, you pay for those that are uninsured - and that is unfair to those people that are insured. So what we want to do is insure everybody, and make it mandatory that each person has to carry insurance so we get rid of that hidden tax that is existing right now, and this is why when we talk about the 4% increase, it's not really a tax. It is a fee, because actually in the end those companies and individuals will profit by the lowering of our health care costs and getting rid of the hidden tax. So it's a wash, or it actually they come out much more ahead than they are now.

I'm pretty much a free-marketeer, I loathe socialized medicine, I'm a fan of the drug companies, but I also see what Schwarzenegger (and Romney) are saying here. The model of mandatory health insurance channeled through the private sector seems to me a good, pragmatic response to soaring healthcare costs in this country. It's not socialized medicine. It's private medicine with the risks more equitably distributed. And, yes, I do believe that if we can achieve universal coverage without socialism or government control of doctors and hospitals, it is ultimately a victory for conservative principles. My libertarian friends will get mad at me. But I'm not a doctrinaire libertarian. On healthcare, I'm with Arnold and Mitt (although I'm not up to speed on the precise distinction between their two plans). I hope the Republican party will be too - and soon.