Electorally speaking, Allyson Schwartz would be a strong candidate to run against Tom Corbett for Governor in 2014.
But until she flip flops on health care issues, I can’t be an advocate for her nomination.
Congresswoman Schwartz’s M.O. on health care issues over the past two sessions has been to give House Republicans cover to dismantle important parts of Obamacare.
And the parts of Obamacare that she wants to get rid of all have one thing in common: they would reduce profits for health care providers – hospitals, medical device makers, doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
I think the fight over health care reform gave a lot of Democrats a funny idea about what the political economy of health care cost control is all about.
The Democratic Party chose to make insurance companies the villain of that fight, naturally, because everybody hates insurance companies. And it’s true that the very existence of private insurance companies is a huge waste.
But that was all just window dressing for the real decades-long fight ahead, which is properly understood as a fight between health care consumers and health care providers, negotiated by insurers.
The problem is that health care providers’ prices are too high. We spend about double what other developed countries spend per person, and we get worse outcomes.
If we want to bring our health care prices in line with those of Canada and other developed countries, there is no way around the fact that provider prices need to come down.
Allyson Schwartz is on the wrong side of this debate. She has vocally opposed all the Obamacare policies that would actually bring the prices down – IPAB (which she eventually caved on), provider taxes, and the medical device tax.
This is a huge problem for her candidacy for Governor. As Governor she would be in charge of implementing Obamacare, and would have opportunities at the state level to reduce prices if she wants to, such as copying Maryland’s all-payer rate setting policy.
So far though, I don’t see any signs that she wants to bring the prices down.
I don’t want to turn Keystone Politics into the Schwartz opposition blog over the next year, but that’s where we’re headed if we don’t start to see her adjust her positions to reflect what’s best for the state instead of just her hospital-dominated Congressional District.