In Democrat-dominated, famously liberal Massachusetts, the Pioneer Institute is a downright dissident voice. It is an independent non-profit that believes in “rigorous, data-driven” thinking and backs “free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government” — in short, it is that rare Massachusetts institution that leans right.
In discussions about health reform, the Pioneer Institute arguments often challenge the state’s party line. Such as, for example, that Massachusetts reform is such a clear success that it can serve as a model for the rest of the country. The Pioneer Institute regularly shares its health-reform arguments on its blog and elsewhere (including valuable comments on CommonHealth), and has just come out with a book: “The Great Experiment: the States, the Feds and Your Healthcare.”
I spoke today with Josh Archambault, the Pioneer Institute’s director of health care policy and one of the book’s co-authors, and shamelessly pressed him to simplify the book’s arguments — which are already well simplified in the text — into even smaller soundbites. He kindly obliges here — and also allowed us to share graphics worth a thousand words. Our conversation, lightly edited:
So how would you sum up the central argument of the book?
There are two: The first one stems from a frustration with the national dialogue on health reform and how little state perspectives have been part of that discourse. So we have laid out a blueprint of how we believe we should move forward in resetting the state and federal relationship on health reform. From our perspective, we would like to see states have a lot more flexibility in how they tackle the health challenges they face.
The second one revolves around Massachusetts, which is that during this presidential debate season we’ve seen a number of “experts” arise that aren’t fully informed about the history and the current state of play in our state. And we wanted to put in one location the latest data, and a concise history of what happened during the debate and what has happened during implementation.