Panel’s report on healthcare is poor model for U.S. policy

 Judging from the contents of his op-ed “Congress could learn from Colorado’s 208 Commission” (Feb. 5), Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) has been misinformed about Colorado’s 208 Commission.

Sen. Salazar implies that commission members found common ground on the “complex and contentious issue” of healthcare reform. They did not. I coauthored one of the two minority reports. …

Medicaid and Medicare are the largest generators of uncompensated care in the United States. They are fiscally unsustainable, yet the commission recommended a vast expansion of Medicaid/SCHIP. The recommendations accompanying that expansion would give state government almost complete control over the vast funds in the private markets for health insurance and medical care.

Sen. Salazar talks about partnership and collaboration. He repeats the fashionable assertion that healthcare is “broken.”

He does not bother to distinguish between relatively efficient private arrangements and the mess that Medicare and Medicaid have created.

Steven S. Schroeder, former head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the group that almost bankrupted Tennessee with TennCare and created model legislation that destroyed health insurance markets in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, once explained how to run partnerships: “[t]he key to public/private partnerships is to induce the private sector to ‘play’ on terms that are acceptable to the public sector.” Otherwise, “strong incentives —financial or political — [are] needed to ‘force’ cooperation on what were otherwise competing and successful institutions.”

Healthcare is too important to be left to public officials interested in forcing cooperation, and a fabricated consensus supported by manufactured factoids is not a good reason to give government virtual control of private healthcare. Real reform means deregulation to reduce costs, and flexible programs enabling people to save so that they can spend their own money on healthcare of their own choice. ...

Golden, Colo.

Automakers support new CAFE standards

From Dave McCurdy, president and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

This letter is in response to a Feb. 11 piece in The Hill by Oxford Analytica that unfortunately misrepresented the auto industry’s position on H.R. 6 (“Automakers grapple with emissions, fuel economy”). Last December, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, historic energy legislation. The centerpiece was an unprecedented increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and its 10 member companies supported this groundbreaking energy bill.

Automakers will work hard to meet H.R. 6’s fuel economy standards, which present one of the greatest technical challenges in this industry’s history. ...

This year, automakers are offering more than 100 models that achieve highway fuel economy ratings of more than 30 miles per gallon and are offering more than 70 models of alternative-fuel automobiles that run on hybrid technology or fuels like clean diesel, ethanol, hydrogen and more.

H.R. 6 will increase fuel economy standards by 40 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles 30 percent over the next 12 years. That’s more than the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill would require from any other sector of the economy.

Alliance members share the concerns of our customers, the administration, the states, and the Congress over the need to increase fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. auto industry is now a global leader making it the first major manufacturing industry to step forward and agree to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We hope that other industries will follow.