With the 112th Congress fully in session, a vote is scheduled in the House to repeal the recently passed Obama Care.
Here is what we at Future Voices think would be the most viable options for providing the best and affordable insurance coverage for the largest number of Americans:
1. Allow Health Insurance to be sold across state lines
It’s simple: When companies compete, prices come down. It’s the free market at work. Turn your TV on at night and you will see that cute little British (or is he Australian?) gecko talking about how he can save you 15% or more on car insurance. You’ll see that cheesy Nationwide Insurance agent “Greatest Spokesperson in the World” and his vanishing deductible tailoring a policy to meet your needs. Why isn’t health insurance done the same way? In some states health insurers have over 70% of the market share. The ability for insurance companies to compete across state lines would allow policyholders in expensive states like New York or New Jersey to purchase health insurance in a cheaper state like Idaho (and buy great potatoes). This is a no-brainer, and an effective policy change that would immediately bring prices down.
2. Tort reform in every state
Tort reform would ensure that states across the board have limits on frivolous lawsuits. The Congressional Budget Office determined that reforming the medical malpractice insurance system a.k.a. “tort reform” could save $54 billion over 10 years, and that’s a lot of dough.
The changes CBO looked at included a cap on non-economic damages at $250,000, a cap on punitive damages at $500,000 and shortening the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits. Currently, one-third of states have limits on non-economic damages, while two-thirds of states limit liability based on a provider’s role in a patient’s care.
Many doctors today run extra tests, give more X-rays than necessary, and schedule more follow ups as a “CYA” procedure, so in the event they are sued, they can defend it in court. This is extremely cost intensive, and costs could be dramatically reduced if doctors were able to practice medicine without the fear of loosing their practice from a frivolous lawsuit.
3. De-regulate the healthcare market
De-regulation allows more hospitals to be built. It’s a simple equation: more hospitals = more care. If the hospital industry was de-regulated, more hospitals could be built in areas that are currently underserved. Why? Because of that evil capitalistic “profit motive” thingy. Hospitals would shoot up in both rural and overpopulated towns. Again, another example of a free market at work.
Under Obamacare, construction has halted at 45 hospitals nationwide.
Section 6001 of the health care law effectively bans new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) from starting up, and keeps existing ones from expanding. This is madness and a perfect example of Union hospitals driving out private competition through legislation.
“Friday [New Year's Eve] marked the last day physician-owned hospitals could get Medicare certification covering their new or expanded hospitals, one of the latest provisions of the reform law to go into effect.
Over regulation is suffocating healthcare. Many of the current “uninsured” live in states that impose numerous mandates. There are about 1,900 mandates nationwide and many of these restrictions make health insurance unaffordable. I’m a guy, why am I paying for maternity insurance? Ohh yaa the state makes me.
4. Vouchers for Medicare and Medicaid
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and former Clinton administration budget director Alice Rivlin have come up with a bipartisan plan to reform Medicare and Medicaid. The plan solves our debt crisis by reducing spending while ensuring that interest on our debt does not end up consuming most of our budget long term.
The plan covers two main points:
- Individuals who turn age 65 in 2021 or later would not enroll in the current Medicare. Instead, they would receive a voucher to purchase healthcare in the private market. The voucher amount would equal the average amount of Medicare expenditure per enrollee, growing at the same rate of growth as gross domestic product (GDP) plus 1 percentage point.
- Second, the Rivlin-Ryan plan would establish Medicaid block grants for states. These grants would still providing states with federal Medicaid, but limit funding based on the state’s proportion of low-income residents
Vouchers allow for a defined amount of money individuals can use in per year and it would be limited to that. Many Medicare recipients wouldn’t use all of the voucher payment in one year, so could carry it over to next year. Individuals with high enough incomes must be means tested out of Medicare and should provide for their own health expense coverage. Vouchers would allow for a defined amount of revenue the Government can take from taxes and apply directly to provide the poor and elderly healthcare. Vouchers allow the patient to make the decision on what money to spend, and would not based on the number of times they visit the doctor, and in-turn the doctor billing the government.
The American people deserve something better from their elected officials, and hopefully we will get that with this current 112th Congress. We are all rooting for you, don’t mess it up. Repeal and replace? Let’s start here.