Issue Position: Health Care

Issue Position

By:  James DeMint
Location: Unknown

Issue Position: Health Care

Prescription Drugs

A Patient-Centered System: Turning Patients into Shoppers

America has the best health care system in the world. Unfortunately, bad tax policy, frivolous lawsuits, government price fixing and antiquated regulations are reducing access to care and drastically increasing healthcare costs.

If Congress does not act quickly, employers will be forced to either not offer health insurance, or ask their workers to pay an even larger part of the bill. Waiting times for doctors and hospitals will grow as the cost of health insurance and health care continues to increase. America's best and brightest students will no longer consider medicine as a career.

Politically, there are two diametrically opposed approaches to solving America's health care crisis. One approach assumes that government-controlled health care is the only practical solution. In these socialized systems like we see in Europe and Canada, doctors work for the government, bureaucrats control the delivery of care, and taxpayers foot the bill for so-called "free" universal health care.

While this approach has considerable political appeal, socialized medicine is known for delivering few medical innovations, poor quality, long waiting times and the rationing of care in ways not liked by patients. This is why the wealthy in Europe and Canada often come to the United States for care. If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it is "free."

The right health care solution sets a goal: every American will have a health plan that they can afford, own and keep. This side supports individual choice and ownership and believes that Congress should allow the health care industry to operate like other free market service industries. Instead of forcing physicians and hospitals to be focused on government-fixed prices and codes, competition would allow health care providers to simplify - and reduce -their prices, just like we've seen happen in the field of laser eye surgery.

Another key component of this approach entails expanding and strengthening Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Rather than using costly insurance bureaucracies to pay for primary health care services, patients could instead pay doctors and hospitals directly from tax-deductible deposits made to their HSA. HSAs also represent a real savings account: the money rolls over from year-to-year and is fully "portable," meaning HSA coverage follows you even if you change jobs or retire.

To further reduce costs for consumers, I have introduced The Health Care Choice Act that would turn the health insurance market, currently a patchwork of discrepant state regulations, into a nation-wide market. This increased competition would allow families to shop for health policies across state lines and choose from a wide variety of plans to fit their specific needs.

A patient-centered healthcare system would turn patients into shoppers, strengthen doctor/patient relationships, improve quality and reduce prices. This innovative approach would also give unprecedented health insurance access to small businesses and working families who are too often priced out of the current market. I believe Congress must act now to ensure that America's health care system remains second-to-none: patients are counting on us.

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