News and Tribune


May 13, 2013

HOWEY: The shrewd Doc Bowen and the issue of our time



Douthat continued: “First, if the benefit of health insurance is mostly or exclusively financial, then shouldn’t health insurance policies work more like normal insurance? Fire, flood and car insurance exist to protect people against actual disasters, after all, not to pay for ordinary repairs. Shouldn’t we be promoting catastrophic health coverage, rather than expanding Medicaid?”

You could only surmise Doc Bowen’s answer to that one.

On Dec. 16, 1986, Bowen would tell President Reagan and the Domestic Policy Council: “I was a political and ideological conservative who wanted government out of individual lives whenever possible; I had succeeded in public life by listening to and acting on the concerns of people; catastrophic illness was a genuine problem that needed to be addressed; there was no private-sector answer, though that would be the best solution; and the proposal would be self-financing.”

Beneath the horn rimmed glasses and his genteel demeanor was a shrewd, cunning and intellectually robust public servant. Had Doc Bowen’s “greatest accomplishment” not succumbed to the prevailing political winds, it's a fascinating mental exercise to wonder where we might be spending our political capital today. 


— Brian Howey publishes at . Find him on Twitter @hwypol.

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