As we wrestle with political factions and mull over assorted ideas for reforming health-care in America, one simple solution bears discussion. Of course, we notoriously hate simple solutions. The modern American solution to simple solutions is to develop layers of complexity and inefficiency. I can only assume that in government, as in hospital administrations, this has to do with creating jobs. To the extent that it keeps nefarious, clever individuals off the street and occupies them in what passes for gainful employment, I applaud the effort. But it seldom solves problems, and typically creates them.
Nevertheless, I digress. My painfully simple solution is this. Allow every health-care provider to deduct, from their federal income tax, the care they provide for free to uninsured patients. It can be the Medicare value of the care; possibly even the Medicaid value. But in the end, a financially savvy doctor, dentist, therapist or any other health professional will end up paying no income tax.
Do you think that providers would open their doors? Absolutely. In fact, they would love the opportunity to zero out their income tax. Not only would they provide care which would benefit the poor, this plan would allow them some power against a government that always seems to take, rather than give.
The elegant beauty of this plan is that it requires less, not more, government. It does not require multiple organizations or federal oversight panels. It needs no Czar or new Cabinet position.
The down side is, of course, ideological. I tried to discuss reducing taxes with college student recently. He’s a very bright man, about to take a job in investing. But he was instantly, viscerally opposed to reducing corporate taxes. Why? Because he’s supposed to be. His argument for the recent bailouts was that ‘well, we don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t done it.’ Indeed. So we came to the fundamental agreement that, in his mind, not much was knowable. Which means, most everything is based on feeling and sentiment.
My plan will be hated by every progressive; despite the millions it might benefit. Because it dares to reward the hard work of providers, and it dares to ask government to keep out of things.
Imagine the patients who, due to access to care, will no longer be burdened by debt! They may be able to invest, to save, to create businesses! Imagine the physicians willing to open their doors to acute and chronic illnesses!
So, there it is! Tax write-offs for providing care to the uninsured. Think it over!