I have a unique perspective on healthcare and the ongoing debate over reform: that of a small businessman and also a husband, father, grandfather and patient. As a small business owner, health insurance costs have consistently been a factor in my operations, employment decisions and overall costs. But as a middle-aged gentleman and father of two I have had to deal with the health care system like millions of other Americans--from the waiting room of the doctor's office to the help-line with the insurance company. There is no doubt we need to fix the system, but the proposals coming out of Congress are not the solution.
Our nation needs health-care reform, but that reform should not be in the shape of a government takeover which focuses mainly on reforming the heath insurance industry without addressing the cost drivers that raise prices for all of us. With a few modifications or adjustments, the private sector or existing government programs can manage many of the issues that plague the current system. As a professional roofing contractor, if I tried to sell a customer an entirely new roof to replace one that had a leak but was otherwise solid and secure, I would be driven out of business and rightfully so. Unfortunately, that's what's happening in Congress today; the politicians are attempting to sell the American people an entirely new health-care system to replace one that has a few problems but is functioning well for the majority of Americans.
One of my recommended private sector solutions is to increase competition at every point of access within the medical industry, but not by having government part of that competition. Government's role is to regulate industry, not to regulate industry and then compete in that industry at the same time. By breaking down barriers currently preventing competition across state lines, it allows businesses to compete in more markets which will increase competition and lower costs. While there are numerous insurance companies in the nation, many states are dominated by a small handful of companies.
I also believe we must also make insurance a much more personal endeavor by, over time, decoupling it from the workplace. Losing your job today often means you lost your health insurance, too. It also means many employees use the insurance that the employer determines, not necessarily because it's the best personal fit for the employee but because that is what the company offers. We need to bring the decision-making back to the individual level, allowing families to determine the coverage that is right for them and their needs and allowing them to keep their coverage if they change jobs, move to a different state or encounter any number of life's uncertainties. Insurance needs to stay with the individual, not with a job position. Incentivizing individuals and families through tax credits and higher wages, and empowering people to make health-care and lifestyle decisions that work for them is important to the long-term health of our nation.
Next, I support tort reform and ending frivolous lawsuits. I believe we need tort reform to reduce the costs that come from defensive medicine. Doctors are ordering costly tests simply to protect themselves in the event of a lawsuit. We all have to pay the costs of those medically unnecessary tests and procedures in the form of higher insurance premiums. Doctors also pass on the cost of higher liability insurance that they pay to patients. Limiting lawsuits by using a "loser pay" provision and capping damages will reduce costs for everyone.
Other solutions that modify mechanisms already in place instead of creating entirely new bureaucracies include establishing shared risk pools where there are none, or expanding existing risk shared risk pools. This model -- which exists with car insurance -- covers those with preexisting conditions. Another option would be to allow low-income individuals to buy into the Medicaid program for essential coverage that they can afford. These steps can help reduce the number of uninsured with very little impact on those who are satisfied with their doctor, healthcare provider or insurance coverage.
I have pointed out numerous times on the campaign trail that Congress helped create the mortgage and financial crisis: Do we want to put them in charge of our healthcare decisions? Consider the unfunded liabilities in the Social Security and Medicare programs: Do we really want another place where government inefficiencies add to the national debt? We do not need to create a massive new bureaucracy with thousands of government employees to fix healthcare and we do not need any politician in Washington DC making our healthcare decisions for us.
In Congress, I will stand up to the special interests and, instead, fight for the best interests of my constituents each and every day. The federal government has a role to play in the healthcare debate, but not the role that most of the Democrats are pushing in Washington. I will push for commonsense, market-based solutions that bring results, not trillions of dollars in unfunded debt for future generations.