Mike Turner: Real Reforms Ignored in Congress’s Major Health Care Push
Sep 14, 2009 -
Last week, in his address to a Joint Session of Congress, the president
laid out his goals for a complete overhaul of health care. His plan
mirrors the major House health care bill which continues to generate
strong public opposition. Not only will this plan have serious
consequences for our struggling economy, but would likely result in
higher costs for American families and businesses, and place at risk
Medicare benefits for millions of seniors. Unfortunately, real reforms
that could actually improve the current system are being ignored by
both the president and the majority in Congress.
Access to reliable and affordable medical care is critically important
to all Americans and their families. However, many people question the
need for a costly federal takeover of our health care system which is
predicted to contribute to an unsustainable $9 trillion federal budget
deficit over ten years.
People are worried that they will lose their doctor, and ultimately, be
forced into a government-run plan even though they prefer to keep their
present coverage. Most want to know why the Administration and Congress
cannot institute targeted reforms in order to increase health care
access and lower costs, rather than force people to conform to an
unproven new system.
I believe real health care reform does not have to undermine the
strengths of our current system, nor limit doctor choice or care
availability. A series of common sense measures could go a long way
toward improving health care.
For starters, insurance companies should be prohibited from excluding a
person for coverage based on pre-existing conditions. When a person
enrolls in a new health care plan, they should not be denied coverage
due to their medical condition.
Medical research is vital to bringing health care costs down. Private
ingenuity is the strength of our current system and should be preserved
and encouraged. The federal government must not stand in the way of
When a person changes jobs they should be able to take their health
insurance with them. Continuity of coverage is more than a convenience,
it can be life-saving if a person is in the midst of important
Small businesses should be allowed to band together to negotiate health
insurance rates for their employees. The majority of American jobs are
in small businesses and these employers are the least able to afford
health care coverage for their employees. It makes sense to give them
the ability to pool costs with similar businesses to provide medical
insurance for their workers.
Our litigation system forces doctors and hospitals to raise operating
costs. For decades, the cost of medical liability has risen much more
rapidly than actual medical care. Limiting frivolous lawsuits would do
much to contain health care costs and promote accessibility to care.
Individuals should be allowed to deduct the full cost of their health
insurance premiums from their federal income taxes. Furthermore, a
person should be able to put tax-free dollars into Health Savings
Accounts to be used for lifetime medical expenses. These measures alone
would make health care more affordable to many.
Unfortunately, rather than implementing these needed reforms to improve
health care access and lower costs, the Administration and the majority
in Congress want to use health care as a tool to grow the size of
government. Their creation of a “public option” could result in the
loss of private coverage for some, while forcing them into a government
plan that offers less options. Add to that government control of
medical research and the result will mean less individual control over
their health care.
To pay for their government-run health care plan, its supporters would
cut Medicare by $500 billion and reduce the popular Medicare Advantage
program by $150 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates two
million seniors could lose their Medicare coverage as a result. That’s
Americans don’t need to sacrifice the best of our present health care –
quality and choice – to improve the current system. Thoughtful reforms
designed to lower cost and expand access while preserving the best
medical care in the world are what Congress should be considering.
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