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Affordable universal health coverage achievable

We all want the same thing: protection from catastrophic illness and the security of affordable health coverage in the future. To their credit, Americans have read the bills working their way through Congress and are objecting to the health care rationing and control over their health care quality and decisions.

Can we achieve health care solutions without Obamacare? Absolutely!

The 20 percent of Americans under 65 owning Health Savings Accounts signals a marked shift toward patients – rather than insurance companies – directing their health care, and with positive results.

Forty-one percent of these were previously uninsured and nearly half have incomes of $50,000 or less. Studies show they are offered more wellness incentives and are more likely to use preventive care.
Congress’ plans for insurance standardization and mandates will stop this progress.

Plus, Arizonans will have lower-cost insurance options since our reform-minded Legislature changed the law this session. Why should everyone be forced to buy the same “Cadillac” coverage, including such benefits as maternity for adopted children or drug treatment, when one without meets their needs? “Government-approved” mandate-laden insurance, as proposed by Congress and that Massachusetts passed, greatly increases premiums, causes over-utilization of services, under- compliance and fewer choices – especially for the young and healthy who would rather pay penalties than high-priced premiums.

Arizona also passed significant medical liability reform this session that will bring doctors to the state and discourage defensive medicine practices to avoid frivolous malpractice lawsuits. Ninety-three percent of U.S. physicians admit to practicing defensive medicine at a cost of $210 billion in 2008 and an additional $865 billion in indirect costs annually. These are reforms the president and Congress have rejected completely.

Nearly one in five Arizonans lacks health coverage largely due to government’s failure, not market failure, to correct the perverse incentives and over-regulation that drive up costs in both.

Before selling yet another government panacea to the American people, Congress should stop the billions of dollars of waste in the Medicaid and Medicare systems, moving them toward solvency. To increase competition, it should enable cross-state purchasing and stop the tax discrimination preventing affordable and portable insurance for individuals.

If, in the end, heavy-handed policies are forced upon the states, Arizona will have constitutional protection – the Arizona Health Care Freedom Act – as a defense if passed next year at the ballot. At last count, 13 other states are taking similar stands against government intrusion into their health care decisions and mandates.

Critics of the vocal opposition to Congress’ plans, such as E.J. Montini (“Uninsured Lost Amid the Shouting”), consistently claim opponents support the status quo and are fine leaving the uninsured problem unresolved. But thorough reporting of the patient-centered reform proposals in Congress, such as individual tax credits, and policies transforming health care in Arizona and other states, like risk pools,
would add balance to the discussion.

We are witnessing engaged Americans who stand ready for an honest debate on health care reform. Choosing which direction it takes is not above their pay grade and may even give real hope to those whose only hope, we’re told, lies in more government control and loss of their own.

– Rep. Nancy Barto is the chair of the Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee and is a Republican who represents District 7. She can be reached at (602) 926-4608 or via e-mail at nbarto@azleg.gov.

3 comments

  1. An excellent description of the problem.

    Those of us who object to Obamacare mainly object to the attitude that “the system is broken, don’t you want to fix it?” as if handing it over to the government is guaranteed to fix everything. We understand that handing something over to the government automatically fixes nothing, and probably breaks a lot more.

    People have short memories. Remember when the private airline security employees were “handed over to the government” to “fix them?” We ended up with TSA. Enough said!

  2. I have to disagree with you about the patient directed health savings plan. I have one and it is horrible. I pay a premium on top of what goes into the savings account, nothing is covered and there are numerous restrictions on doctors, procedures, urgent care centers, etc. I believe that the system is broken. I can’t say that I am comfortable with government take over either. It is difficult to say who I would rather have directing my health care, the federal government or billion dollar profit driven corporations. Neither one sits well with me. I am not confident that either institution has my best interest in mind.
    As for the lawsuits, what protection would patients have if they were unable to sue doctors for malpractice? I know I speak for many when I say that the quality of our doctors has steadily decreased over the past ten years and there is little recourse for consumers.

  3. My concern is for those of us over 55 on Medicare who do not have Dental.
    Many of us on medicare need Dental more than the other Health causes.
    I have Diabetes which affects my gums and teeth and need Dental care badly.
    Being on Medicare and being Disabled and low income prevents me from getting Dental work done. Other expenses such as rent, utilities, car payment to get around to store and such prevent me from having enough money to get Dental coverage. With no cost of living allowance this next year and Medicare cost still going up which I barely use but would if Dental was in the coverage.
    Medicare is eating me alive especially if it goes up and we do not have a cost of living allowance increase for us that are disabled and receiving SSI.

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