Health Care Reform - The RIGHT Way

by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Over the last eight months, I worked to build a coalition in Congress to reduce health care costs and expand insurance coverage without increasing spending, raising taxes, rationing care, or putting the government between you and your doctor.

After months of hard work and consensus building, the Republican Tuesday Group developed the centrist Medical Rights and Reform Act to dramatically reduce the cost of health insurance for all Americans without bankrupting the country and without compromising the doctor-patient relationship.

Our plan would end lawsuit abuse, expand electronic medical records, allow Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, and give individuals who buy their own insurance the same tax breaks we give corporations.

And, most importantly, our plan would prohibit the government from rationing care or overruling the judgment of your family physician.

Before the President’s most recent address, I released four key questions I hoped the President would address.

First, how would the Democrat health care bill lower the deficit?

The Congressional Budget Office scored the Speaker’s bill at over $1 trillion, including a $160 billion cut for Medicare, a $587 billion tax increase, and a $295 billion increase to the deficit.

This Congress already gave us a $1.8 trillion deficit. America cannot afford to spend another trillion. We need to lower health care costs without spending money we don’t have and without raising taxes.

Second, since other countries restrict care to save money in their big-government health care programs, how will the Democrat plan protect the practice of medicine in America?

Democrats in Congress claim that any health care reform plan must include a “public option” to increase “competition” and help bring down costs.

Let us be clear – a government-run insurance program will not compete with the private sector; it will replace it. By the laws of economics, the private sector cannot fairly compete with the U.S. Treasury. Once a government-run health care system is in place, costs will be controlled by squeezing the suppliers of health care – that is, by rationing care to all Americans.

In a government-run health care system, the government decides what tests and treatment you need – not your doctor. This plan is unacceptable.

Third, since the Democrat plan cuts $160 billion from Medicare, how will it prevent harm to seniors?

H.R. 3200 cuts reimbursements for medical technology, especially imaging, which is vital in the early detection of disease. The U.S. would soon follow trends in Canada and Britain where access to medical technology is in short supply.

Last, since litigation and defensive medicine adds $300 billion annually to America’s health care costs, how will the Democrat plan reform lawsuits?

The Speaker’s bill has no lawsuit reforms for America. Recently, the former head of the Democratic National Committee reported that Congressional leaders could not include such reforms for political reasons.

Unfortunately, the President left my questions unanswered and ignored common-sense alternatives that could achieve many of his objectives without spending a trillion dollars, raising taxes, rationing care or cutting Medicare. Alternatives like our Medical Rights and Reform Act.

Without the government-run option and the 52 other programs established by the Speaker’s bill, our plan’s cost would be centered on the $300 billion widely recognized as needed to prevent the scheduled “Sustainable Growth Rate” cut for doctors practicing under Medicare. And it would be paid for by unobligated balances from the stimulus bill.

The Medical Rights and Reform Act would prohibit government rationing of health care. The main pillar of the Act protects the doctor-patient relationship in statute by banning action by Congress to interfere with medical decisions.

Our proposal would defend Medicare and prevent the scheduled 21% cut in reimbursements for doctors treating seniors.

Finally, our plan would contain extensive reforms to cut the $300 billion spent annually in defensive medicine and litigation.
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I honestly don't know enough about this piece of legislation to say it is good and solid, or not. But I can say, on the surface, it certainly seems a better alternative to Obamacare.

I think it does contain a couple of key features however. First, Insurance companies need to be able to compete across state lines. This added competition would drive down the cost of health insurance.

Second, doctors and medical institutions need to be protected from frivolous lawsuits. The insurance these doctors and companies need, to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits, adds tremendously to the cost of health care, and is passed onto us, the patients.

I don't think an overhaul of the system is needed. I think a couple key steps is enough to make health care more affordable to everyone. Don't be fooled into thinking that the government taking over is the only cure. Public option is fools gold.


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