After reading Gov. Bobby Jindal’s op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post, one can’t help but admire his plain-spoken leadership on health care reform. Here’s Gov. Jindal’s initial shot at Washington, DC:
A majority of so-called Republican strategists believe that health care is a Democratic issue. They are wrong; health care is an American issue, and the Republican Party has an opportunity to demonstrate that conservative principles work when applied to real-world problems.
But memo to Washington: The debate on health care has moved on. Democratic plans for a government takeover are passÃ©. The people don’t want it. Believe the polls, the town halls, the voters. Only Democrats in Washington would propose new taxes on businesses and families in the middle of a recession, $900 billion in new spending at a time of record deficits, and increased taxes on health insurance and products to reduce health-care costs.
Washington is the only place in the country that doesn’t realize that this debate is over. Democrats may march forward anyway, but they will do so without the people, and at their own peril.
First off, that “majority of so-called Republican strategists” need to be fired because they’re worthless. It’s great seeing conservative leaders calling out counterproductive parts of the GOP coalition. Now isn’t the time for tip-toeing around. It’s time for innovative leadership.
Secondly, it’s great to see a Republican call out the Democrats for ignoring the American people. The Democrats’ leadership might well attempt to march their party off a cliff but that doesn’t mean their health care plan is proof of effective leadership. Speaker Pelosi, the DNC and David Axelrod have essetially said that the TEA Party protesters and townhall meeting questioners are part of the angry mob wing of the GOP, that they’re astroturfers.
That’s their way of saying that these people shouldn’t be paid attention to. That’s certainly the Democrats’ right but they ignore We The People at their own peril.
What’s especially exciting is seeing Gov. Jindal’s 10-point plan to improve health care:
Voluntary purchasing pools: Give individuals and small businesses the opportunities that large businesses and the government have to seek lower insurance costs.
Portability: As people change jobs or move across state lines, they change insurance plans. By allowing consumers to “own” their policies, insurers would have incentive to make more investments in prevention and in managing chronic conditions.
Lawsuit reform: It makes no sense to ignore one of the biggest cost drivers in the system, the cost of defensive medicine, largely driven by lawsuits. Worse, many doctors have stopped performing high-risk procedures for fear of liability.
Require coverage of preexisting conditions: Insurance should not be least accessible when it is needed most. Companies should be incentivized to focus on delivering high-quality effective care, not to avoid covering the sick.
Transparency and payment reform: Consumers have more information when choosing a car or restaurant than when selecting a health-care provider. Provider quality and cost should be plainly available to consumers, and payment systems should be based on outcomes, not volume. Today’s system results in wide variations in treatment instead of the consistent application of best practices. We must reward efficiency and quality.
Electronic medical records: The current system of paper records threatens patient privacy and leads to bad outcomes and higher costs.
Tax-free health savings accounts: HSAs have helped reduce costs for employers and consumers. Some businesses have seen their costs decrease by double-digit percentages. But current regulations discourage individuals and small businesses from utilizing HSAs.
Reward healthy lifestyle choices: Providing premium rebates and other incentives to people who make healthy choices or participate in management of their chronic diseases has been shown to reduce costs and improve health.
Cover young adults: A large portion of the uninsured are people who cannot afford coverage after they have “aged out” of their parents’ policies. Permitting young people to stay on their parents’ plans longer would reduce the number of uninsured and keep healthy people in insurance risk pools, helping to lower premiums for everyone.
Refundable tax credits (for the uninsured and those who would benefit from greater flexibility of coverage): Redirecting some of the billions already spent on the uninsured will help make non-emergency care outside the emergency room affordable for millions and will provide choices of coverage through the private market rather than forcing people into a government-run system. We should trust American families to make choices for themselves while we ensure they have access to quality, affordable health care.
Gov. Jindal is right in calling for our own positive health care reform proposal. You can’t defeat something with nothing, although I might have to adjust that thinking with health care reform. (It appears as though We The People will defeat the Democrats’ disastrous reform proposals simply by highlighting the Democrats’ ruinous policies.)
I’m betting that America will rally to the GOP reform plan the minute that they read the specifics of our proposal. What’s more is that we should feel obligated to outlining a positive vision for the American health care system. That’s what leaders do. After all, leadership isn’t only about criticizing your opponent.
Cross-posted at California Conservative