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Issue Position: Health Care

Issue Position

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What's at Stake

The U.S. health care system is the largest single industry in this country, and indeed the largest industry ever to exist in any country. But health care is far more than just an industry. It is an essential source of well-being for individuals and families.

Our health care system is blessed with many extraordinary strengths. It produces and attracts the best and the brightest across all fields of medicine, and provides unparalleled innovation, choice, and quality of care. But it also faces significant challenges: high cost, inefficiency, inconsistency, and tens of millions of Americans lacking insurance coverage. We can fix these problems.
Obama's Failure

Unfortunately, the transformation in American health care set in motion by Obamacare will take us in precisely the wrong direction. The bill, itself more than 2,400 pages long, relies on a dense web of regulations, fees, subsidies, excise taxes, exchanges, and rule-setting boards to give the federal government extraordinary control over every corner of the health care system. The costs are commensurate: Obamacare added a trillion dollars in new health care spending. To pay for it, the law raised taxes by $500 billion on everyone from middle-class families to innovative medical device makers, and then slashed $500 billion from Medicare.

Obamacare was unpopular when passed, and remains unpopular today, because the American people recognize that a government takeover is the wrong approach. While Obamacare may create a new health insurance entitlement, it will only worsen the system's existing problems. When was the last time a massive government program lowered cost, improved efficiency, or raised the consistency of service? Obamacare will violate that crucial first principle of medicine: "do no harm." It will make America a less attractive place to practice medicine, discourage innovators from investing in life-saving technology, and restrict consumer choice.

In short, President Obama's trillion dollar federal takeover of the U.S. health care system is a disaster for the federal budget, a disaster for the constitutional principles of federalism, and a disaster for the American people.
Mitt's Plan

On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.

In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government's role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.

Restore State Leadership

Restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill:

* * Block grant Medicaid and other payments to states
* * Limit federal standards
* * States will experiment and learn from one another
* * Flexibility to deal with uninsured: e.g., charity, exchanges, subsidy for private coverage
* * Flexibility to deal with chronically ill: e.g., high-risk pools, reinsurance, risk adjustment

Empower Individual Ownership

Give a tax deduction to those who buy their own health insurance, just like those who buy it through their employers:

* * End tax discrimination
* * Greater consumer choice--can buy what you want, not only what your employer wants
* * Promote portability
* * Help control health care costs

Focus Federal Regulation

Focus federal regulation of health care on making markets work:

* * Correct common failures in the insurance market
o * Ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions who are continuously covered for a specified period may not be denied coverage
o * Empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools
* * Eliminate counterproductive federal constraints
o * Remove barriers to the sale of insurance across state lines
o * Allow providers to design plans that meet consumer needs

Reform Medical Liability

Reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs:

* * Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
* * Innovation grants for state reforms: health courts, alternative dispute resolution, etc.

Introduce Market Forces

Make health care more like a consumer market and less like a government program:

* * Unshackle HSAs--e.g., permit HSA funds to be used to pay insurance premiums
* * Promote "co-insurance" products
* * Encourage "Consumer Reports"-type rating of alternative insurance plans
* * Facilitate IT interoperability
* * Promote alternatives to "fee for service"

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