Politics

Health Care After the Fall

It looks as if voters were more than ready to show how much they’re fed up with the Democratic Party’s idea of healthcare reform by investing their trust in Republicans to repair the medical malpractice that took place under President Obama. Now it’s imperative that we Republicans respond with more than talk.
 
Delivering the goods should start with oversight hearings into exactly what went so wrong and the repeal of everything after the enacting clause of the law that set ObamaCare in place. The individual mandate, employee mandate, abortion funding, the tangle of outsider/insider councils like the comparative effectiveness board, and the effective nationalization of health care under grants of authority to the Department of Health and Human Services: All of those have to go. I hope we can move a repeal bill through the House in the first 90 days.
 
Next, we need the thoughtful creation and passage of healthcare reforms that make sense. I particularly want to ban insurers from rescinding coverage when their policyholders get sick and need to use their insurance. And an updated Patients’ Right to Know Act makes sense so that patients can know the actual price and quality of the care when making their healthcare decisions. This proposal would provide ways to collect and publicly disclose pricing and risk-adjusted quality data. Never again should patients get a bill on which a box of Kleenex tissues is featured as a pricey “mucus recovery system.”
 
Purchasing health insurance across state lines is another reform that’s overdue. This bill actually passed out of committee when I was chairman. People living in a state with expensive health insurance are now locked into those plans and do not have an opportunity to choose lower-cost insurance available in other states. Only in the restrictive world of health insurance do we find that goods and services don’t flow from one state to another state without restriction. I can’t think of a good reason why Americans should not be allowed to buy insurance coverage outside the state in which they live if the plan they buy is approved by the state where it is offered.
 
Still another priority should be reversing the Obama administration’s effort to demolish the Medicare Advantage programs. The chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that half of all seniors who select a Medicare Advantage plan will lose that coverage under ObamaCare, cutting 7.4 million people off from their insurance. “You can keep insurance if you like it” was one Obama promise worth keeping, even if it takes Republicans to get it done.
 
On Medicare, we face an even more immediate problem. The latest extension of Medicare payment rates to doctors expires on December 1, 2010, effectively cutting their pay, followed by a second cut on January 1, 2011. In total, doctors face approximately a 26% reduction in their rates of payment from Medicare, giving some an enormous incentive to simply stop accepting Medicare patients altogether. It’s time to solve this problem permanently.
 
We should also rescind the ban on expanding or creating physician-owned hospitals. It is a strength of the American free-enterprise system that people may own their own businesses, and doctors should not be excluded from that right.
 
Competitive bidding for Medicare-bought equipment is another area deserving our attention. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 required bidding, which Medicare says will save an average of 32 percent on the money paid under the current fee schedule.
 
Finally, I propose the creation of a task force with governors on a bipartisan basis to hold hearings on the state-federal welfare program, Medicaid. As we already know from governors on both sides of the partisan aisle, the federal mandate forces states to spend money they don’t have.

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