The Cap Times - Tommy Thompson: Reform Health Care with Wisconsin Common Sense


By:  Tommy Thompson
Date: Oct. 10, 2012
Location: Unknown

By Tommy Thompson

There is no greater threat to our long-term economic vitality than the mistaken health care law currently on the books. We can't afford it, it is unworkable, and it puts in jeopardy the solvency of Medicare. I have a plan to reform our broken system and the proven experience you can trust to get it done.

As governor, I helped create BadgerCare -- which enrolls more than 425,000 Wisconsin kids who would otherwise be uninsured -- and SeniorCare, which Sen. Herb Kohl himself lauded as an "efficient, cost-effective choice for Wisconsin seniors." More than half a million Wisconsinites rely on these programs for their emergency and primary care.

Then, as Health and Human Services secretary, I took my record of common-sense reform to Washington, D.C., and created one of the most successful programs in the federal government.

Medicare Part D is a cornerstone element of the health care plans of 30 million seniors nationwide. Not only has the program outperformed initial estimates, but also came in $435 billion under budget while allowing providers to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers to save seniors billions.

Just as I reformed health care with BadgerCare, SeniorCare and Medicare Part D, I have a plan to reform health care on a national level.

Our nation can afford neither Obamacare nor the prior policy, both of which will cause deficits to balloon, businesses to suffer, and families to fear the loss of affordable care. My plan addresses four fundamental flaws of our current system:

1. Over-regulation.
2. The disconnection of economic realities and consumer choices.
3. The lack of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
4. The lack of market-based solutions.

The first step in reform must be repealing Obamacare and dismantling the bureaucracy that enables it.

Our nation was in the height of the Great Recession when liberal Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin helped ram Obamacare, which will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, through Congress. There is no greater example of irresponsible governing. Obamacare increased taxes by $525 billion, slashed $716 billion from Medicare and stifled job creation. And yet my opponent doesn't think it went far enough.

There is no debate that the previous health care system was flawed, but a government takeover of medicine is not the answer. I propose a multifaceted approach to reform the way the free market accommodates health care. My plan will: save Medicare; incentivize quality; encourage personal responsibility and wellness; enact medical liability reform; reform insurance, support employer coverage; expand Health Savings Accounts; establish a voluntary state-federal initiative; and reform Medicaid.

Finally, we must ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions are granted affordable access to health insurance. My plan would guarantee that those who remain in continuous insurance coverage never pay more than 150 percent of standard rates for insurance, regardless of changes in their health status.

Merely repealing will leave our health care system in disarray, burdened by complex regulations and lacking of innovation and efficiency. We need a series of fundamental reforms, and who better to reform our nation's health care system than the person who made Wisconsin health care affordable for our most vulnerable citizens and created the most successful and efficient program in our federal government? I have done it before, and you can trust I will do it again.

Tommy Thompson is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. He is a former governor of Wisconsin and former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services.

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