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Last night, I participated in a conference call hosted by the Heritage Foundation’s Bob Moffitt, with featured guest Rep. Paul Ryan. Last night, Rep. Ryan unveiled the House GOP’s health care alternative, which I think is significantly better than Ted Kennedy’s intrusive ‘reform’ that will cost trillions of dollars to implement. Follow this link to listen to last night’s call. It lasts approximately 45 minutes.

After the call, I had several questions that Rep. Ryan didn’t cover during his presentation so I sent him my list of questions. His staff got me the answers I’d asked about. Here are the questions and Paul Ryan’s responses.

1. Here in Minnesota, there are 65 separate mandates on health insurers, all of which drive up the cost of a health insurance premium. With Ted Kennedy & Co. writing health care ‘reform’, isn’t it likely that their legislation will contain lots of expensive mandates? Wouldn’t that necessarily drive up health care costs?

Yes. That is one of the major problems with a public plan. Insurance shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. The public plans being proposed by Ted Kennedy and others will likely mandate a lot of coverage that not everyone needs, making it more expensive for everyone. We’ve seen this problem at a state level where a state mandates coverage for something like hair regrowth formula, that only a small percentage of the population even wants access to “but ultimately, those mandates drive up the cost of insurance for everyone, even those who don’t use much coverage at all. The Patients’ Choice Act addresses this problem by allowing insurance plans that sell health insurance through state exchanges to be exempt from these mandates. These plans only need to meet the minimum benefit standard prescribed by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan. People need to be able to purchase health insurance that isn’t heavily loaded with mandates.

2. Shouldn’t people, working in concert with their physician, have the option of putting together a customized health insurance policy?

Yes “that’s a great idea and just the type of innovative thinking we don’t want the federal government to squash. Patients have different needs, and that’s exactly why health insurance shouldn’t be run by the federal government. The government does not know what is best for patients. Patients and doctors should be able to make decisions together about the types of health plans that best suit their individual needs. That concept is exactly what motivated the Patients’ Choice Act. We don’t want the federal government taking over these decisions and we want to show people that there is another way that allows the individual to maintain control over these personal decisions.

3. Won’t government run health care effectively put cost controls on hospitals, doctors & pharmaceutical companies? (I wrote about the American Medical Students Association, aka AMSA, study on single-payer in this post. They admit this in their study:

Increased access to preventive care and the ability of government to purchase prescription medications in bulk would also help drive down health care costs. However, the corresponding drop in revenue for pharmaceutical companies could lead to a reduction in overall research and development, slowing down technological advancement.

Shouldn’t people demand great value instead of price controls & rationing?

Yes, and that’s the core of the disagreement right now. Some Democrats like to accuse Republicans of not caring enough about health care to spend the trillions they claim is needed to fund health reform. But we don’t need to spend more money to get better VALUE out of our dollars. We already spend over twice as much as any other industrialized country on health care, and we should focus on getting greater value from the dollars we currently spend rather than add trillions of dollars more. Lasik surgery is a great example of where market forces are at work to drive the cost down while improving the quality. Since there isn’t much, or any, third party payment system for Lasik surgery, consumers have demanded better value for their dollars. And as a result, the quality has improved vastly and the procedure is far less expensive than it was 10 years ago. We need to make sure that every step we take in reforming the health care system supports research and technological advancement. The government making decisions for people about what is valuable and what is not will only stifle these advancements.

Health care reform done right doesn’t cost trillions of dollars of transitional costs. PERIOD. It just takes a little innovation, a little willingness to admit that government’s inflexibility hinders that innovation and that personal responsibility and healthy lifestyles will do more to shrink health care costs than price controls could ever produce.

While freedom from another government takeover is vitally important, it’s equally important that we think in terms of value for each health care dollar spent.

QUESTION: Will people get a better value if they consult with their physician in putting an insurance policy together or if Ted Kennedy writes a one-size-fits-all policy in DC? Will people get better value for their health care spending if they aren’t inundated with stupid mandates? Will people get better value for their health care spending if pharmaceutical companies keep producing ‘miracle’ cures?

The Democrats can’t talk about their plan giving people more freedom because their system relies on top-down control. The Democrats can’t talk about their plan giving people greater value for their health care dollars because their plan is all about quantity, not quality. The Democrats’ plan isn’t about innovation. It’s about a race to the bottom in terms of quality because their priority is about getting everyone insured.

There’s a difference between reform and cutting budgets. Reforms maintain quality and service levels while reducing costs. Budget cuts cut service levels to cut costs.

It’s time we chose the plan that offers freedom and value, not one-size-fits-all and rationing.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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