Affordable Health Care Without a Government-Run System
I oppose a government take over of our health care system as proposed by Speaker Pelosi and Democrats in Washington. Putting bureaucrats between doctors and patients is simply the wrong way to go, and will destroy the quality of health care as we know it. As a doctor, I am committed to providing the best possible care to my patients, and as a small business owner, I understand the enormous costs in maintaining that care through employee insurance coverage. As a member of Congress, I can balance both interests to provide the best possible policy outcome for Iowa's individuals and families.
With two failing entitlement programs already projected to run out of money, Medicare & Medicaid, the federal government and the politicians (who are ultimately responsible for their solvency) have proven they are incapable of managing an entire industry that consumes nearly 20% of our national economy.
We need leaders in Washington who will fight to open up health insurance purchasing across state lines to increase competition and bring down cost. Having just one or two insurance options within each state creates a monopoly that works against consumers. But most importantly, it is my belief that we must get back to health insurance as a catastrophic safety net, rather than the primary means of complete coverage. Insurance is geared toward those things that occur rarely or infrequently, not for everyday expenditures.
We can do this by individual health plans through which we purchase catastrophic health insurance with prevention and immunization as the basic policy offering. Plans would be pre-funded for low income families, and tax deductible for higher income individuals. They would be allowed to choose the deductible, similar to auto insurance. Insurance premiums would increase by adding benefits, but still be affordable with a nationwide risk pool and more competition. This type of reform -- rather than a government-run option, empowers consumers, allowing patients to negotiate costs, frees up doctors to spend more time with patients instead of insurance companies, and allows your health insurance to be permanent even if you switch jobs. The government would enforce pricing transparency, fraud detection and insure that the needy are covered.
Other insurance reforms would be guaranteed "renewability" and minimizing price discrimination for pre-existing conditions. The former insures that if you have a catastrophic illness, the policy premium would remain level for two years. When the basic policy premium is affordable, a mandate to purchase health insurance is not required. The law that mandates emergency rooms treat patients regardless of status, would also necessarily have to be modified which would offer people further incentives to purchase highly affordable health insurance policies.
It is also important that we tackle medical liability reform -- such as putting caps on rewards derived from medical lawsuits, and protecting doctors from practicing defensive medicine, which produce unnecessary tests, procedures and medications. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has concurred that this would save approximately $60 billion over a decade. Enhancing medical record technology to reduce medical errors will also go a long way in this regard, but "template" medicine will not provide quality or enhance the doctor-patient relationship.