I’m no big Mitt Romney fan, but I’m warming to him a bit after his Israel stopover, despite the so-called gaffes. Since this is the Health Business Blog, I’ll focus on Romney’s praise of aspects of the Israeli health care system. A front page Boston Globe article basically ridicules Romney for complimenting the Israeli system, considering there is a serious socialistic element to it that is at odds with Romney’s free-market philosophy. The Globe gives multiple critics the chance to point out that Romney is praising a system that offers universal coverage and has plenty of central government involvement, which is the opposite of what he espouses for the US.
Let’s give Romney the benefit of the doubt and assume he isn’t totally ignorant. Let’s assume he knows that Israel doesn’t have a completely free-market approach to health care. Let’s even imagine that Romney perceives universal health care and the high concentration of physicians as consistent with the “cultural” or (heaven forfend!) Jewish character of the State of Israel.
I give Romney credit for calling out the advantages Israeli society enjoys as a result of spending only 8 percent of GDP on health care compared to 16 percent or more in the US, while attaining life expectancies that are three or four years higher. He’s brave to admit –if only implicitly– that different approaches work best in different places. It’s really not so inconsistent with the view he’s espousing about health care in the US –that what’s right for Massachusetts is not automatically right for the country as a whole. The emphasis on judging policies by their results rather than their ideological underpinnings is a good one, and would represent a nice change for Washington, DC. And it has the advantage of seeming to be what Mitt actually believes.
Keep this kind of thinking and speaking up when you get home, Mr. Romney and you may find yourself closing in on the White House.August 2, 2012