The new healthcare entitlement program passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March will provide taxpayer-funded health insurance for 32 million people. It raises taxes by half a trillion dollars and cuts Medicare by another half trillion. It was purported to control rapidly-rising medical costs; however, experts agree the bill actually does little to control costs.
Many conservative Blue Dog Democrats, led by Majority Leader Hoyer, said the bill would be the most significant deficit reduction measure Congress would vote on this year. What these self-described conservative Democrats hid from the American people, however, was an expensive provision that was removed from the bill, only to be signed into law later this year. The result will swing the bill into the red by $100 billion. The longer-term costs will be multiples higher at a time when our country is already on the hook for $56.5 trillion in unfunded promises. This only increases the mounting and unbearable debt burden for the next generation.
I strongly support repealing and replacing this fatally-flawed bill with legislation that enhances care, improves access, and controls costs.
I will support a bill, or bills, that would enact the following initiatives:
* Re-implement the prohibition on excluding people from insurance plans based on pre-existing conditions. This is one aspect of the current law that is worth passing again, as the denial of insurance to those with existing conditions is wrong.
* Allow individuals who purchase their own health insurance the same tax benefits enjoyed by employers who provide health insurance.
* Expand options for purchasing low-cost healthcare by creating new pooling mechanisms. Today, the only health insurance pool available to Americans is their employer's pool. Those who are unable to participate in an employer-sponsored pool must buy into what is called the "individual market," which is much more expensive. We should allow all groups (churches, alumni associations, trade associations, civic groups, etc.) to set up new insurance pools and offer affordable healthcare packages to their members. Instead of having only one group policy from which to choose, every American will be able to choose from a number of "group plans." This will lower insurance costs and make coverage more portable.
* Allow individuals, businesses, and other groups to purchase insurance plans that fit their particular needs across state lines. Tearing down these artificial barriers will create larger insurance pools, thus spreading the risk further and lowering health insurance costs.
* Include real medical malpractice reforms. The current system is in place to protect patients, but it is being abused to such a degree that doctors must pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical malpractice insurance just to treat patients. Medicine is expensive enough without having to support the legal profession as well.
* Implement prepayment verification measures for Medicare reimbursement. The current system is one of "pay and chase" where the government simply cuts the checks and law enforcement officials must attempt to track down bad actors. If the government implemented verification systems used by credit card companies, a large portion of the fraud could be reduced, saving billions of dollars per year.
* Force hospitals and clinics to post the costs of procedures, drugs, and medical devices on-line. Citizens should have the right to see what healthcare really costs. Hiding these costs from the public encourages over utilization and limits price sensitivity. Individuals should be rewarded for shopping around for lower cost options.
Healthcare is a very complex issue and it affects every American. The partisan entitlement program passed this Congress takes a serious problem and proceeds to make it worse. If I am elected, I will vote to repeal this law and replace it with reforms that will preserve the best parts of the American healthcare system while addressing the problems of access and affordability.