Op-Ed: We Need Commonsense Health Care Reforms
While we can all agree that our current health care system is flawed there are many different ideas about how to fix it. Recently Democratic Leaders in Congress introduced the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act", which sets the tone for a Washington takeover of the health care system. While this misguided legislation simply offers more of what is wrong with the current system, House Republicans have offered commonsense reforms that will make health care more affordable, reduce the number of uninsured and increase quality.
True health care reform must start by making health care affordable and accessible for all Americans. To accomplish this goal, we must start by eliminating the unnecessary waste, fraud and abuse in our current health care system. We must focus on prevention and wellness programs to help prevent costly procedures after individuals get sick and increasing transparency to improve patients' access to the best health care information available.
Additionally, medical liability reform must be included in any health care overhaul. Skyrocketing insurance premiums are debilitating the nation's health care delivery system. Liability insurers are leaving the market or raising rates to astronomical levels. This has caused physicians, hospitals and other health care providers to severely limit their practices or to discontinue medicine altogether. Discouraging the practice of defensive medicine, the ordering of unnecessary tests and procedures, will save billions of dollars.
Another key component of any health care reform legislation must be to make it easier for small businesses to cover their employees. Small businesses are crucial to our economy because they employ about half of all Americans. The way to revitalize our struggling American economy is by ensuring the stability of America's small businesses and reducing the burden of increasing health care costs is a big part of that. The creation of Association Health Plans, known as AHPs, would provide the necessary relief to small business by allowing them to band together to purchase insurance coverage at lower rates for their employees.
Finally, we must enact legislation that will help individuals receive health care coverage if their employer doesn't offer it by providing health insurance tax credits for individuals and families who don't have access to employer-based health insurance. We must also allow individuals the option to purchase health care across state lines, helping create a national market for health insurance by having consumers, not bureaucrats, find the coverage which best suits their needs.
Federal health care policy should focus on strategies that help Americans obtain the best quality health care at the least cost. The best way to keep health care prices down is competition, not bureaucracies, regulations and price controls. The role of the government is to foster increased access to quality care based on individual choice, not to take away choices from people on the grounds that government knows best. I will continue working to see that these principles are included in any health care reform legislation.