OBAMACARE’S BROKEN PROMISES
President Obama said that “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” That was then, this is now. Obamacare is already changing the nature of health plans and making some of them disappear. The Congressional Budget Office has said that 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance by 2019.
President Obama said that his health care plan would lower health care costs to the country. But now CBO says that his health care plan is going to raise costs over the next decade, and increase the deficit.
President Obama said that his health care plan would lower costs to families, because giving a government program to another 50 million people would keep health care costs down. Guess what—Americans’ health insurance premiums are rising. The common thread is that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid were willing to say anything to get Obamacare passed. And they did say anything, true or not. Nancy Pelosi even said that we had to pass the bill to see what was in it. Now we know.
WHAT’S IN OBAMACARE?
Obamacare, based on Romneycare, features overarching regulation on insurance companies governing what benefits their policies must offer and what range of prices they could charge. It also includes an unconstitutional requirement that individuals buy conforming policies; $500 billion dollars of cuts in Medicare; a panel to determine the cost-effectiveness of the treatments your doctor wants to provide; and penalties for employers who don't offer the right kind of health insurance.
SO WHAT SHOULD AMERICANS DO?
Every American should have access to high-quality, affordable health care with health care decisions made by patients and their physicians, not government bureaucrats.
The same will be true under Rick Santorum’s health care plan. It will promote patient-centered health care rather than government- centered health care. Americans would take refundable tax credits and choose private insurance. All insurance plans that are licensed in a particular state would be eligible, and each company would be free to set its own premiums. Low-income individuals would get extra tax credits so they could buy the same kind of health care as other Americans. Health insurance companies could offer high-deductible plans carrying lower premiums combined with health savings accounts, or more traditional managed care or fee-for-service plans.
Rick Santorum will not cut Medicare funding and choices (as did President Obama) in order to fund a new entitlement and disguise its real cost. Medicare needs to be improved and strengthened through premium support and expanded choice so it is on a sustainable path for everyone, young and old.
Another approach is legislation sponsored by Georgia Representative Tom Price, a physician, which allows employers to purchase whatever insurance plan employees choose. Employers would still enjoy the same tax benefit for providing coverage, tax-free to the employee, but workers would be able to choose from an entire range of options, policies that they could carry with them when they change jobs. Currently employees are generally limited to one plan, sponsored by their employer, and lose that coverage when they change jobs. Employees could also purchase health insurance with tax-free dollars outside the system.
The contrast with Obamacare could not be starker. Rather than turn the insurance industry into a federally-controlled public utility, the Republican plans would allow all Americans, including recipients of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, to shop around and get their health insurance on the open market - just as they buy other kinds of insurance.
THE U.S. HAS THE BEST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD
Any attempts to reform America’s health care system should enhance and improve our existing system. During Rick Santorum’s time in the Senate, he promoted choice and freedom in health care policy through the creation of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and promoted choice and private sector competition to improve and strengthen Medicare for our seniors. America should avoid following the same failed paths that Britain, Canada, and many other countries have pursued with their government-run health care systems. In fact, one study, by former CBO director June O’Neill, showed that uninsured Americans have better access to some preventive tests and screenings than insured Canadians.
By a variety of measures, America is the world’s leader in innovative medicine. Since the mid-1970s, American residents have won the Nobel Prize in medicine more times than residents of all other countries combined. The United States also holds more medical technology patents than all other countries combined.
But America needs American style healthcare reform with more choice, innovation, and competition driven by the people -- families and employers, patients and doctors -- not Big Government or bureaucrats. Instead, in ObamaCare and RomneyCare, the government is driving people into government dependency. This is not life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness- this is dependency and coercion rather than freedom.
HOW DO WE PAY FOR HEALTH CARE?
The U.S. health care system’s costs are so high, in part, because of frivolous lawsuits. One major objective of reform, not even seriously put on the table in Obamacare, should be promoting healthcare liability reform in the states and as it relates to federal programs like Medicare.
One of the strengths of the U.S. health care system is our free-market approach. Where possible, we should enhance that approach, empowering individuals to purchase Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) rather than being dependent on employer-sponsored health insurance programs. These can be combined with high-deductible plans to address concerns over costs and the potential effect of severe or catastrophic illness at the same time.
Real concerns of families and patients need to be addressed in a new system, including quality, cost, and access: e.g. rising costs, portability needs, pre-existing conditions, cost transparency, access to qualified medical personnel. We need to get this right for our personal health and well-being, our family budget, and our long term, fiscal health as a nation. We need to infuse these principles into any targeted health care reforms and into existing government health care such as Medicare and Medicaid.
HOW WOULD COVERAGE WORK?
What to do about Americans who are born with health conditions that make insurance companies unwilling to take them, such as Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella?
Senator Santorum’s plan begins with coverage being easily affordable, so there will be fewer uncovered families with uninsurable conditions. If people are already insured, then their insurance company has to cover them when their health changes, or when they have a baby who is very sick. That was the law before Obamacare. People would be encouraged to purchase private insurance by getting a refundable tax credit to cover premiums, thereby being able to purchase health insurance with pre-tax dollars (as with employer-provided health insurance). Insurance companies should be allowed to compete over state lines to offer health insurance, to expand the market for insurance.
Once a person has insurance, he would be able to switch to another plan immediately if he has not allowed his coverage to drop, without having to go on COBRA. If he has a break in coverage, it would be more expensive to buy coverage afterwards. That gives people an incentive to keep their coverage. But there are still people who fall through the cracks. About 2 million to 4 million people a year have uninsurable conditions—about one to two percent of the U.S. population of 313 million.
GIVE POWER BACK TO THE STATES
In order to enable insurance companies to be able to offer low-cost premiums to Americans, those with severe illness need to be offered special health insurance programs through the state, known as risk pools. Some states have them, and others don’t. States are laboratories of innovation and have different needs in their populations. They can also learn from each other as to what works best and what does not. Senator Santorum is also in favor of the federal government helping states set up risk pools if that’s what they want. This would be dramatically less expensive than the impositions of Obamacare and provide more choice for those who really need extra help with difficult-to-insure conditions.
Those with pre-existing conditions would receive health insurance, subsidized by the state, through regular insurance companies. They would be able to choose their health insurance, with the price of the premiums depending on income. Alternatively, states might select one insurance company to insure all those with uninsurable conditions. It would be up to states to choose.
POWER SHOULD LIE WITH INDIVIDUAL AMERICANS,
NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Obamacare, inspired by Romneycare, was designed to take health care away from Americans and make them dependent on the federal government and thus is an affront to freedom. This is why it garnered the sometimes begrudging support of only one party and why 27 states are now challenging its constitutionality in the Supreme Court this week. Unlike President Obama and Governor Romney, Senator Santorum has never supported government mandates to require people to buy health insurance.
Rick Santorum’s health care policy is the exact opposite—it moves responsibility and choice back where it belongs, to the American family and individuals. In our problem-solving, let’s also stick with the principles our founders enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution rather than the mandates and edicts of King George by respecting and protecting Americans’ fundamental freedoms. Let’s embrace freedom and opportunity together and address real challenges with American solutions. This is also a better prescription for American’s health and future.
Read more on Rick's healthcare freedom agenda: http://www.ricksantorum.com/health-care-freedom-agenda