Health experts to Prez: Put up or shut up

A stiff letter to the President.

The week before last, a group of leading health experts said that President Bush’s characterization of the Kerry health plan as a government takeover was wrong. (The text of the statement is here; the signers list has now grown past 90. )

Mr. Bush has continued to make the charge, and now two leaders of the group have sent him a stiff letter, telling him that if he can’t support his charge with either facts or experts he ought to stop making it.

Here’s what they said:

Dear Mr. President:

We were among the signers of the statement issued last week by the Health Care Finance Group ( That statement challenged the claim, frequently presented in your speeches and campaign advertising, that your opponent’s health care proposals would amount to a “government take-over” of the health care system and result in “government-run health care.”

The nonpartisan statement, which neither endorses nor rejects any particular approach to health care policy, has been signed by ninety-five of the nation’s leading experts in health policy and health care finance. It makes clear that, whatever the merits of Senator Kerry’s proposals, it is simply not accurate to describe them as you have.

If you believe that we are mistaken, please direct us to any genuine expert in health care policy or health care finance who agrees with your claim, or any genuine analysis that supports it. Otherwise, we would respectfully suggest that it does not serve the nation or honor the office of the presidency to continue to make a charge so obviously contrary to fact.

Very truly yours,


Arleen A. Leibowitz

Professor of Public Policy

UCLA School of Public Affairs


Theodore R. Marmor

Professor of Public Policy and Management and Political Science

Yale School of Management

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: