Sunday, September 6, 2009

John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra: How To Insure Every American

The Wall Street Journal published an excellent op-ed by congressmen John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra that outlines some common sense health care solutions that do not involve government takeovers. These aren't new ideas, though the Liar-in-Chief and his Leftist-Statist myrmidons continue to spread the lie that Conservatives are the party of "no" and do not present alternatives. In truth, Conservatives have pushed for common sense health care reform for many years, but have been fought tooth-and-nail by Democrats. Hoekstra and Shadegg plainly demonstrate that reform does not have to be the enemy of liberty

•Costs and Control. The health-care reform debate centers on how to lower the cost of care, and who should ultimately control health-care decisions. Under the current system, nobody is focused on controlling costs.

Roughly 60% of all health care in America is employer-provided. This third-party payment structure has divorced the consumer—the patient—from the real cost of services. It encourages excess spending, runaway lawsuits, defensive medicine (doctors ordering unnecessary tests and procedures out of fear of being sued), and huge malpractice premiums.

President Obama and Democrats in Congress say that a new federal health-care bureaucracy and a so-called public plan is the answer. They are wrong.

Government has caused the problems we face in health care. Our tax code incentivizes employer-provided health care, rewards health insurance companies
by insulating them from accountability, and punishes those who lack employer-provided care.

Every night on television there are dozens of commercials from Geico, Progressive, Allstate and other companies offering us better auto insurance at lower costs. But there are virtually no commercials for health insurance. This is because the federal government protects health insurance companies from real competition. Insurers don't have to market to consumers. They only have to satisfy employers. In addition, a person living in New York, for example, is currently only permitted to purchase individual insurance in New York. Allowing competition across state lines would drive down cost tremendously.

We believe the solution to this problem is patient choice. What appears to be a free market in health care today is not. The health-care market is a stacked deck that favors insurance companies rather than patients.

We must stop punishing Americans who buy their own plan by forcing them to purchase their care with after-tax dollars, making it at least one-third more expensive than employer-provided care. Individuals should be able to take their
employer's plan, or turn it down and select insurance of their own choosing without any tax penalty.

•Pre-existing Conditions. Americans agree that no one should go bankrupt because of a chronic disease or pre-existing conditions like multiple sclerosis or breast cancer.

In 2006, the Republican Congress and President Bush passed legislation encouraging states to create "high-risk" pools where those with pre-existing conditions could receive coverage at roughly the same rates as healthy Americans. State-based high-risk pools spread the cost of care for those with chronic diseases among all insurers in the market. The additional cost of their care is subsidized by the government.

Unfortunately, some states have not created high-risk pools, and some need to be restructured to ensure timely access to care. Republicans have proposed fixing this problem by expanding and strengthening this safety net, and by creating reinsurance or risk-adjustment pools so that Americans with chronic medical conditions can get the care they need at an affordable cost.

•Uninsured Americans. Most Americans recognize that the quality of health care in the U.S. is excellent. Thousands of foreigners come to America to get care each year; in 2008, some 400,000 people traveled here for treatment. The five-year survival rates for all cancers beat the rates in Canada, Europe and England. The problem is that some in America cannot access this care.

Republicans and Democrats agree that we should cover all Americans. In large part, we already do. Anyone in the country can walk into an emergency room and receive care regardless of his or her ability to pay.

The political disagreement is not whether to cover everyone, but how to do so. The president and congressional Democrats say we should create a new government-run plan, outlaw the health coverage Americans enjoy today, and let federal bureaucrats control the content and price of health plans. Their bill, H.R. 3200, is filled with more than a thousand pages of new mandates, penalties, regulations and taxes. It is nothing short of a complete takeover of the entire health-care system by Washington politicians.

We believe that all Americans deserve the ability to select health-care coverage that meets their needs—not the preferences of politicians. Republicans in Congress want to empower Americans to make their own choices by providing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for you to purchase the plan of your choice. Those who cannot presently afford coverage would be able to select and purchase their own plan using a health-care voucher provided by the federal government.

If we give citizens the ability to control their own care, cover pre-existing conditions, and provide resources to the uninsured, we will have fixed health care in America. No bureaucrats. No new czars. No mandates. Just choice and coverage for every American.

President Barry Vladimir Hussein Soetero Obama and congressional Democrats can talk all they want about choice and options for Americans, but they are lying and they know it. The plans floating around the House and Senate are all based on the premise that the federal government has the power and authority to control the health care of every American. The reality is that Americans will have fewer options if they achieve their fascist takeover of health care. They do not care about health care delivery or quality. They care only that government controls the industry.

It is time for Big Media to do their job and present both sides. Real America is already winning. If Big Media decides it wants to resemble a journalistic enterprise instead of a Leftist public relations consortium, nationalized health care will get the burial it deserves.

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