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 such research.
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 treatment.
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 not reform.
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.