My first vote as a Congressman was to repeal the president’s massive health care law in full, and I still believe the law must be repealed.
However, we can still expand access to health care without the president’s law. Structural changes can be made to encourage preventive health care and also to separate health insurance from employment
status, both of which will lower prices and will create stability for families. We can reform lawsuit
abuse, which was a special pursuit of mine as a state legislator in Illinois. (The fear of lawsuits causes doctors to order all kinds of extra, preventive tests which may or may not be necessary for a patient, thus driving up costs for everyone.)
We can especially encourage price disclosure. Can you think of any other sector where a customer can
walk in and buy a ‘product’ without ever knowing its cost? Patients (and even doctors!) may decide
together on a test or prescription, but may never know the cost to the insurer or if there was a cheaper
version available. Making prices publicly available will put patients back in control and make health care more affordable for all.
Here are some important indicators for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including the U.S.:
• We spend more per person on health care than any other developed nation.
• Our life expectancy is lower than all other OECD Nations except for Estonia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Turkey.
• Only Mexico, Turkey and Chile exceed our infant mortality rate.
• The U.S. ranked 11th out of 11 nations (i.e. the poorest showing), on unmet need due to cost.
Rosy claims about the U.S. health care system are usually based on anecdotes about wealthy foreigners coming here for treatment. We do high tech medicine very well, but very expensively. Sadly, if you are not wealthy or well-insured, things aren’t so bright.
1) The first step that should be taken is for the House to get serious about implementing the Affordable Care Act rather than continuing an apparently endless string of show votes to repeal.
2) Reintroduce a public insurance option. Such an option would provide even greater flexibility for consumers, and would, by most reasonable estimates, result in a further savings.
3) Add a prescription drug benefit to traditional Medicare and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, as is already the case with Medicaid and the VA. These changes would result in reductions in both out-of-pocket and Medicare care costs.