By Boyd Matheson

This week begins one of the great sporting events in America – college basketball’s March Madness. In addition to the tremendous spectacle and emotional rollercoaster this annual journey provides, it is also layered with lessons that can be applied to our national political leaders. I realize associating madness and politicians seems too easy a target these days – but let’s give it a try.

Legendary coach John Wooden won more NCAA basketball championships than any coach in history. More importantly, he taught principles and lessons. I remember my dad regularly quoting a Coach Wooden classic: “If you don’t have time to do the job right, when will you have time to do it over?”

In 2009 Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. They had their vision for health care reform and chose to ram through a 2,300-plus-page bill, which few had read and even fewer understood.

Democrats didn’t have time to do health care right, and after eight years of failed rollouts, a steady string of broken promises, millions of dollars wasted, skyrocketing premiums and ridiculous deductibles for hard-working Americans, it seems to be time to do it over.

Republicans now control Congress and the presidency. With the same strategy and tactics they criticized their Democratic counterparts for deploying eight years ago, congressional Republicans seem ready to ram through their vision of health care reform.

Sadly, when neither party is interested in doing the job right, it is the American people who pay the price when it has to be done over.

Americans should demand that their elected officials do what they were elected to do – debate, amend and vote on legislation. I think all members should be locked on the floor of their respective chambers where they can make their case and vote on what comes next for health care – for all to see.

There is clearly bipartisan agreement on many of the provisions of Obamacare that should be part of the future of American health care. This is an easy place to start.

Washington rarely cleans up its own messes when it comes to the “doing it over” department. Congress should center the conversation on care starting at the state level. I trust the state of Utah to strike the right balance of compassion, control and accountability for the unique health care requirements and needs of Utahns.

There are a host of other measures that can increase portability, decrease cost, create better health care outcomes, and ensure the needs of the most vulnerable among us are met.

If Congress really wants to do health care right, it will avoid comprehensive bills and the perennial behind-closed-doors meetings followed by a cry that “the buzzer is about to sound so we have to vote on the bill as is without debate or amendment.” Congress could leave the madness to the NCAA and instead follow Coach Wooden and do health care right, so we won’t have to make time to do it over again.

Boyd C. Matheson is president of Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank that advocates for a free market economy, civil society and community-driven solutions.


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