In his State of the Union speech, President Obama challenged opponents of his health care law to share their plans for health reform. That is a welcome invitation.
So-called opponents of Obamacare are not opponents of health reform. As a matter of fact, the need for reform – including curbing costs, improving quality, and reducing the number of uninsured — is something most all can generally agree on. The difference is in the approach to solve those problems.
Obamacare attempts to solve the cost and quality by controlling the financing and micromanaging the delivery of medicine, while solving the uninsured problem by forcing people to buy government-approved health insurance (that in many cases they can’t afford) or be taxed for not complying.
In sharp contrast, opponents of Obamcare solve the problems of cost and quality by allowing the market to respond to consumer demand, while understanding that competition will lead to better products and services at lower prices and will enable more people to buy the coverage and services that best fit their needs.
Earlier this week, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) released the Patient-Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act. The bill would repeal Obamacare and begin to put in place a series of policy reforms that would get health care reform back on track. In general, it provides common-sense, rather than extreme, insurance rules for those with pre-existing conditions; it restores the state’s role as the primary regulator of health insurance; it offers targeted tax credits with sensible tax reform; it gives states greater flexibility to help the most vulnerable without bankrupting the taxpayers; and encourages consumer-directed innovations.
The CARE Act is yet another voice in a growing chorus of Obamamcare alternatives. Last year, Representative Tom Price (R-GA) introduced the Empowering Patients First Act and on the heels of that proposal the House Republican Study Committee, led by Representatives David Roe (R-TN) and Steve Scalise (R-LA), introduced the American Health Care Reform Act.
It is worth noting that these policy ideas are not new, nor have they emerged as a political response to Obamcare. These are principles and policies that have been have been the cornerstone of real patient-centered health reform for decades. Some may obsess with the technical differences between all these proposals. But, these plans have far more in common that they do in difference. The real contrast is evident when comparing these plans with Obamacare.
Americans want to have choice and control over their health care (including the doctors they want to see) and want those who provide health care services – insurers, hospitals, and other health care providers – to compete to provide them better care at lower prices.
While liberals attempt to hijack these words to advance their agenda with the American people, the reality is that Obamacare cannot deliver on its promises. It depends on a complex system of government mandates, inter-dependent regulations, and a highly involved, never-ending process of government decision-making that ultimately takes personal health care decisions out of the hands of American citizens.
The policies found in these various congressional proposals are not simply alternatives to Obamacare, but they offer a new and better way to health reform. Perhaps it’s time to give these ideas a shot, rather than let the President try to convince the American people that the mess that is Obamacare is the best we can do.