Health-Care Journalism Without the Questions.

The New York Times has a story on what the Republicans hope to offer as a new health-care bill, if the Democrats and President Obama scrap the current legislation, which they are unlikely to do. In their plans, Republicans emphasize a free market -- their bill would provide tax credits to individuals and small businesses, expand high-risk pools, reform medical malpractice law, and allow insurance companies to sell plans across state lines.

That these ideas alone are unlikely to bring down health-care costs considerably doesn't seem to concern Republicans. They also don't seem too troubled that their bill would not come close to covering 30 million uninsured Americans, as the bills that passed the House and Senate would. And they don't seem to care that many of their ideas are already in the bills. No, what they're really focused on is making sure that health reform happens in small steps:

But Republicans say they can make incremental progress without the economic costs they contend the Democratic plans pose to the nation.

What costs are those? Not those posed by the Democratic bills. As Tim pointed out yesterday, the nonpartisan CBO has the bills reducing the deficit in the long term. It would be nice if the Times would point that out the next time it quotes Republicans about controlling "costs."

Moreover, what's the point of a bill with such small goals? Even if those reforms help, they would only delay the need for the kinds of reforms the Democrats are looking to make now. The next time I see a story like this, I'd like to know that the reporter asked more about why.

-- Monica Potts

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