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Public Statements

Issue Position: Health Care

Issue Position


In March, John Salazar and the Democrats passed their health care reform legislation in open defiance of the will of the American people. I have pledged to fight to repeal and replace this disastrous legislation, and I ask you to join me in this battle.

We must repeal because ObamaCare will be toxic to the relationship between government and citizen, toxic to the natural rights and freedom of the individual, and toxic to the welfare and prosperity of the nation. We then must replace this legislation with a different type of reform; one that empowers the individual rather than the government, unleashes the competitive forces of the market to drive innovation, and eliminates the costly government mandates that drive up costs and reduce options for health insurance. We will replace it because we always understood that the status quo ante was unacceptable. Our opposition was not to reforming health care, but to federal government control of health care.

Much of the discussion on health care reform has centered on containing the rapidly inflating costs of health care in America. Making health care affordable is the key to making it accessible for all Americans. ObamaCare attempts to cut costs by fiat: dictating the amount government will reimburse providers for care and limiting the amount insurers may charge customers in premiums (i.e., imposing de facto wage and price controls). As a solution to rising costs this approach falls flat because it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of price versus cost: the refusal to pay more than a predetermined price for health care services, while possibly justifiable under the budgetary constraints of the federal government, does nothing to alter the underlying costs of providing care that are responsible for driving prices higher. Medicare already reimburses doctors and hospitals at a rate 80% to that of private insurers, and Medicaid's record is far worse. Oftentimes the reimbursements are not sufficient to cover the costs of treatment, with the shortfall necessarily covered by higher prices for other non-governmental payers. As a result of the insufficient reimbursement rates, many doctors have refused to take on new Medicare and Medicaid patients, while others have withdrawn from the program altogether. Expanding the pool of patients under government programs will only exacerbate the problem.

Meaningful health care reform would have addressed the distorted incentives built into our health care system that drive costs, and therefore prices, ever higher. Instead, Democrats reinforced the distortions caused by our heavy reliance on third party payers by further severing any connection between the consumer and the cost of care. As costs for health care continue to rise, the government will be forced to contain those costs by other means, namely by rationing access to various treatments or in particular circumstances that are deemed insufficiently cost-effective.

ObamaCare is a top down, centrally-planned system in which Washington decides how much will be spent and on which treatments and under what circumstances. Access to care and availability of new treatments will become a political question, and solely the province of politicians and bureaucrats.

In contrast, a market-based approach relies on the private decisions of millions of individuals informed by the price mechanism. It empowers the individual to make decisions regarding their insurance and health care needs based on their particular circumstances and priorities. It puts the consumers of health care -- the patient -- in control of their own health care dollars, and ultimately in control of the care and treatments that they wish to receive in return for those dollars.

By lifting the regulatory barriers that inhibit choice and competition in the insurance market and then applying targeted solutions to problems such as pre-existing and chronic conditions, we can create a dynamic marketplace that provides affordable insurance options for people of all needs and circumstances. The following reforms build on the strengths of our current system, while correcting the distorted incentives, to create just this type of dynamic market:

Encourage the innovation of new drugs, treatments, and other health care technologies by reforming the inconsistent, lengthy and costly FDA trial process and allow greater patient access to new and promising treatment options.

* Tax equity

The tax code must be amended to allow those who purchase coverage in the individual insurance market to use pre-tax dollars in the same way that employer-provided coverage is purchased with pre-tax dollars.

* High risk pools

High risk pools must be created to cover those with pre-existing and chronic conditions.

* Encourage use of Health Savings Accounts

We must change the regulations on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to allow for greater annual contributions and roll-over of unused funds, and to encourage the use of HSAs for routine health care costs.

* Portability of insurance

Individuals should be allowed to keep their insurance plan without penalty if they leave a job or move across state lines.

* Tort reform

Limits must be set on costly and frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits that only serve to line the pockets of trial lawyers, while driving up costs for doctors and patients and encouraging doctors to practice defensive medicine.

* Promote transparency

We must provide consumers access to cost and quality information for comparison-shopping.

* Purchase insurance across state lines

We must open the insurance markets so that coverage may be purchased across state lines, providing consumers with more options and greater affordability.

* Small business risk pools

We should allow small businesses and other organizations to create combined risk pools in order to cut costs.

* Promote innovation

We should promote innovation in health care with competitive markets, eased regulatory burdens, and greater patient access to new and promising treatments.

It is important that we fight with everything we have to achieve the ultimate defeat of ObamaCare, but let's also keep in mind that we are not only fighting against ObamaCare: we are fighting for real conservative reform of American health care as well.

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