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Leading policy-makers and scholars explain how market forces, deregulation, and consumer choice can work to improve health care for all Americans.

Commentary

Competition Works
Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute, 7-14-06

Turner applauds recent health care reform efforts in states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island, saying that these experiments in reform are critical steps on the road to a more efficient and less costly health system for all Americans.

...Rhode Island has joined the growing list of states that are moving forward forcefully on health reform. Gov. Donald Carcieri signed 14 bills designed to do everything from banning junk food in school vending machines to lifting mandates on some insurance policies to make more affordable policies available to small businesses.

I haven't yet read all 14 bills, but, not surprisingly, there's some bad news with the good: The state will get much more heavily involved in deciding what health facilities will be approved—always driven by politics rather than market demand—and legislators just couldn't help adding yet another coverage mandate for smoking cessation treatment.

But the good news is that the state will be more aggressive in making provider prices available to consumers. And, most importantly, health insurers will be able to offer policies that have fewer mandates and higher deductibles than current law allows to make policies more affordable for small businesses.

One common theme: Like Massachusetts, Rhode Island's health reform package is bi–partisan. Republican Gov. Carcieri and Democratic Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty both made health care a priority, worked with their friends in the legislature to pass their favorite provisions, and claimed credit for the new laws.

Expect to see more experiments like this as states get even more involved in health reform. And they are experiments: with governors and legislators closer to the problem and aware of different resources in the state, they can try out new ideas and help other states see what works—and what doesn't.



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