The new Newt

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, has reappeared as chair of an organization called the Center for Health Transformation. This is a bit odd, given Gingrich's past reputation as a flame-throwing free marketer, for this organization is committed to providing health insurance for all citizens, a patently socialist notion.

And an idea which I back fully, as long as we can avoid the pitfalls of the nationalized health care systems in other industrialized nations. It is clear that the present system is inadequate and clumsy.

If you are past retirement, you have Medicare and Medicaid. But if you are a young person struggling to pay the bills with no sense that you ever will get ill, health insurance is a cost which might seem a luxury--until you need it. Stories of children getting seriously ill and not having the insurance to cover their treatment are particularly troubling. Children cannot be blamed for their parents' lack of foresight in not carrying proper coverage.

So, although I am a free marketer, I think the health care field should be set aside as an area where dog-eat-dog competition is neither appropriate nor beneficial for those who most need care.

It appears that this group has chosen Gingrich as its chair in a bid to make sure it is not excused as a liberal, utopian group wanting universal health care without regard for the cost. I know Gingrich's chairmanship got my attention.

This country has trouble focusing on big picture, long-term problems. We prefer the drama of today's disaster. It makes for better television. But to make for a better country, we need to address the health care problems with courageous and far-sighted leadership.