Conservative Health Care Solutions

Insurance News Net reports:

“WASHINGTON, April 16 — Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. (4th CD), issued the following column:

To hear the media tell it, congressional Republicans have no solutions for health care reform beyond repealing Obamacare. However, House Republicans have not only proposed but have passed numerous plans to make health care more affordable and accessible — without putting the federal government in charge of one-sixth of the national economy.

A nationwide Gallup survey of physicians found that the practice of defensive medicine greatly increases medical costs. According to the 2010 survey, 73 percent of doctors reported ordering unnecessary tests, prescriptions, procedures and referrals just to protect themselves from potential lawsuits. These unneeded actions account for 26 percent of overall health care costs, the physicians report. House Republicans have passed numerous pieces of legislation to reform the medical liability system. The HEALTH Act, which passed the House in March, would limit non-economic damages and establish “fair-share” rules that allocate damages based on the defendant’s degree of fault. Based on successful state-level policies, such reforms would reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $45 billion over the next ten years and could lower medical malpractice insurance premiums — and, consequently, individual medical costs — an average of 25-30 percent compared to current law.

Creating a nationwide health insurance market would also greatly reduce coverage costs. Under our current system, premiums vary widely based on state-imposed regulations. While the average family premium is $5600 in Iowa, coverage for families costs more than $13,000 in New York and New Jersey due to requirements that plans in those states cover a variety of expensive benefits. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), states imposed a total of 2,156 benefit and provider mandates in 2010 that are responsible for raising the costs of a policies by as much as 10 to 50 percent. Simply allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines would increase choices and lower costs. Not only would individuals in high-cost states be free to purchase less expensive plans from other states, but costs could decrease overall if insurance companies were required to compete in a national market. The number of Americans able to afford health insurance would increase by an estimated 12 million with these reforms, according to a University of Minnesota study.

Millions of Americans are left out of our employer-based insurance system because they are self-employed or work for small businesses that can’t afford to offer coverage. According to the Small Business Administration, only 33 percent of firms with fewer than 10 employees offer health insurance, while 62 percent of businesses with 10 to 24 employees provide health benefits. Small businesses that employ predominantly low-wage workers fare even worse, with coverage rates as low as 18 percent. Under President Obama’s plan, these workers would be pushed into government health care or forced to pay a fine. However, there is a better solution. Conservatives have proposed legislation to create Association Health Plans, which would allow independent workers and small companies to band together and obtain coverage as a group. Association Health Plans would give small business workers and the self-employed the same negotiating clout enjoyed by large employers, making private insurance affordable for the 45 percent of Americans who do not have access to coverage through their employer.

Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, congressional Republicans will pursue these commonsense policies that increase — not decrease — health care options. Several of these proposals have passed the House of Representatives during the past 10 years only to meet the familiar Senate Democrat roadblock. Meanwhile, health care costs continue to rise and new evidence continues to show that Obamacare is not the answer. Conservative solutions like medical liability reform, nationwide insurance markets, and Association Health Plans show that greater government control is not the way to make health care more affordable, available, and accessible.”