Monday, June 15, 2009

SANFORD / ATLAS: Alternatives to government health takeover - Washington Times

SANFORD / ATLAS: Alternatives to government health takeover - Washington Times

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Mark Sanford, the current governor of that rakish southern state of South Carolina, has proposed a free-market solution to the health care crisis that the country currently faces. What I believe we are seeing is the tables aligning for his run for President in 2012. This is the blueprint that conservatives and Libertarians should be following in the battle against Leviathan.

• We believe there's benefit to decoupling employment from health insurance coverage by ridding the system of tax preferences for health care. This single change would reduce health expenditures hundreds of billions of dollars while easing the burden of health costs on businesses. A great unspoken truth is that health benefits from employers come at the expense of employees' take-home pay. Raising lost wages would be the first of many benefits to American workers and their families from delinking health insurance and employment.

• We think it's critical that power shifts to the American consumer and away from government, employers and insurers, as evidence shows medical care prices come down when patients pay directly. Government should offer tax relief, such as refundable tax credits, to encourage private health insurance purchasing - especially for low-income families. Similar ideas, like those in the Patients' Choice Act recently put forth by Republican members of Congress, are important for Americans to consider. We would do well also to consider creative ideas such as changing federal payments to state-based medicaid plans to individual vouchers or expanding health savings accounts, as has been done in South Carolina.

• Government can lower the price of health insurance and increase choice for Americans shopping for their own coverage by breaking down arbitrary barriers such as state lines and reducing costly and unnecessary coverage mandates. For instance, a national market for car or life insurance means South Carolinians can buy an Ohio policy or New Yorkers one from California. It makes similar sense to allow people to buy a health insurance plan, no matter from what state, that best fits their family and their values.

• We believe it's imperative that we fix our medical liability system. By some estimates, abuse of our legal system costs our health system $80 billion annually. Key tort reforms, including reasonable caps on noneconomic damages; freedom to use dispute resolution outside of our courts; and requiring adherence to medical guidelines as a standard for liability in malpractice trials would be a good start.

• Finally, an estimated 80 percent of all the health care innovation in the world springs from American individuals, companies and universities. It is vital that government support an atmosphere that enhances such innovation and discovery rather than restrict it by overregulation. Specifically, the federal government should promote state-based experiments in health care delivery and technology in Medicaid and Medicare pilot programs (in preventive care and home-based nursing, to name two) and also facilitate and aggressively fund scientific research and innovation in both private and public sectors on advances in diagnosis and treatment as well as in disease prevention.

Good Stuff.

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