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Overhauling the Health Care System Will Require Ideas From Both Parties to Work

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health care reformFollowing Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts’ Senate race, there has been much speculation on whether health care reform is dead.  General consensus is that reform is not dead, but that the brand of reform being championed by Democrats is too partisan and flawed to be enacted, especially now, as Scott Brown gives the Republicans another needed vote in the Senate.

For health care reform to be achieved, our government needs to be bold and offer new ideas, rather than simply rehash old ones.  According to Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, “very little in the Obama health plan is new or original.  Many of its policy initiatives are recycled from the ill-fated Clinton health plan of 1993 and the Kerry health plan of 2004 and strongly resemble a detailed proposal by the Commonwealth Fund, a prominent liberal think tank.”

Elizabeth MacDonald of Fox Business News outlines some ideas for health care reform that didn’t make the cut in President Obama’s plan:

Tort Reform – In last year’s meeting with the American Medical Association (AMA), President Obama stated, much to the chagrin of his audience, that he does not advocate “caps on malpractice awards.”  The AMA estimates that medical malpractice costs and defensive medicine (ordering extra, unnecessary tests for fear of being otherwise sued for negligence) costs upwards of $200 billion each year.  Certain states, including Texas, have taken it upon themselves to curb these costs.  From the Fox Business article:

Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2003 capping damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. In turn, doctors are swarming to Texas, swelling the ranks of specialists at Texas hospitals and bringing professional health care to some long-underserved rural areas, reports the New York Times.  All but 15 states have adopted some limits on medical damage awards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But Texas went further than many states. Malpractice insurance premiums dropped an average of 21.3% annually since reform.

Less costly insurance premiums for doctors can lead to cheaper Texas health insurance premiums for consumers.

Interstate Competition – An interstate market in health insurance would deliver more competition than a public option.  If the insurer’s monopoly were broken and people were allowed to buy insurance across state lines, as they are with auto insurance and life insurance, costs would decrease as competition increases.

State-Based Reform – Because states face varying degrees of health care costs and uninsured citizen rates, health reform won’t work as a federal, one-size-fits-all solution.  A federal-state partnership would allow states to devise a health reform plan that works for them.”

As Elizabeth MacDonald states, “health reform is not dead. There are bipartisan ideas out there to fix it. And that means to enact reform, the only route out is the bipartisan way.”  It’s time for elected officials to stop pursuing an agenda so extreme and flawed that it takes a supermajority of one party to pass it.

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