Three Cheers for Ann Coulter—David Frum
Bravo for Ann Coulter.
That's not a sentence you might expect to read in this space, and I'm sure my endorsement will please nobody less than Ann herself. That said: bravo.
Coulter headlines her latest column, "Three Cheers for Romneycare."
It's not as if we had a beautifully functioning free market in health care until Gov. Mitt Romney came along and wrecked it by requiring that Massachusetts residents purchase their own health insurance. In 2007, when Romneycare became law, the federal government alone was already picking up the tab for 45.4 percent of all health care expenditures in the country.
Until Obamacare, mandatory private health insurance was considered the free-market alternative to the Democrats' piecemeal socialization of the entire medical industry.
In November 2004, for example, libertarian Ronald Bailey praised mandated private health insurance in Reason magazine, saying that it "could preserve and extend the advantages of a free market with a minimal amount of coercion."
A leading conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, helped design Romneycare, and its health care analyst, Bob Moffit, flew to Boston for the bill signing.
This is all true and right and welcome.
So many wish to suppress this history, and it's good to see Coulter refusing to acquiesce.
More cheering yet is the logic implicit in Coulter's phrase "free-market alternative." Alternative what? Answer: alternative mode of providing universal health coverage. That's what Gov. Mitt Romney accomplished in Massachusetts—universal coverage via private insurance. Universal coverage is what Romneycare provided, and if you give Romneycare three cheers, universal coverage is what you are cheering. Many conservatives dismiss the significance of that achievement—when they do not disparage universal coverage outright as some terrible invasion of liberty. But as Coulter says,
No one is claiming that the Constitution gives each person an unalienable right not to buy insurance.
Right! True! And really—who doesn't want insurance? When we see tens of millions of people going without insurance—and thereby either suffering much worse health outcomes or else dumping their costs onto others (or both)—we're not seeing a principled aversion to coverage. We're seeing a crisis of affordability. Gov. Romney tried to address that crisis, admittedly with only imperfect success, but with more success than all those other governors who did not try at all.
So three cheers for Ann Coulter's three cheers—and for this public step toward a more humane and rational vision of conservatism.