Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Base closings and health care

June 30, 2008

We’ve reached the season when companies start lining up employee health care coverage for the following year.

Like prior years, companies will complain about skyrocketing costs and workers will complain about getting fewer benefits. Study after study suggests both parties will be right. Americans pay a lot and get little.

If the ongoing conflict and gridlock we’ve experienced is any indication, the problem won’t be solved for a long time.

Have things gotten so bad that it’s time to consider a commission similar to the ones that helped lawmakers decide which military bases to close?

The commissions are stocked with knowledgeable people from across a spectrum of backgrounds and political persuasions. They return with recommendations, and Congress then is obligated to vote the recommendations up or down.

Because Congress can’t tinker with the recommendations, political influence over sacred cows is minimized and lawmakers who want action but fear casting a vote are offered cover (“Some specifics were flawed, but the overall plan was so well thought out that I voted for it.”).

Commissions have helped the country get through hard decisions on which bases no longer were needed. Could such a commission help fix health care?

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