America is at a healthcare crossroads. We have the best healthcare system in the world. Thats why people come here from all over the world seeking treatment. However, our system also suffers from decades of failed government mandates and wasteful bureaucracy, while excluding millions of Americans, especially low-income workers and the self-employed.
Most Americans agree we need to make health insurance more portable and affordable. In the upcoming presidential election, there will be a great debate on the best means to achieve those goals.
Many Democrats and some Republicans believe in a government-mandated healthcare system that takes its inspiration from the socialist systems of Canada, Cuba and Europe. When government mandates coverage, it inevitably sets prices, suppresses innovation and restricts access. Expanding government control increases costs and decreases quality.
Most Republicans have a different vision of healthcarean American vision of freedom, opportunity and responsibility. We want to empower individuals and families to make healthcare decisions that work best for them, instead of adding more government mandates that would restrict access to care and increase costs to our citizens. We want patients, in consultation with their doctors, to choose the medical care best for them, rather than having their care dictated by bureaucrats and accountants.
We would foster innovation in advanced medical care and medications while facilitating affordable access to them, so that Americans have the best, most up-to-date treatments that government-controlled systems fail to provide. We can improve value, increase the pace of innovation and decrease costs.
My reforms for excellence, portability and affordability in healthcare are based on these key principles:
Equalize tax relief. I believe all Americans should get tax relief for health insurance like those who are lucky enough to get coverage through their employers. A new $15,000 income exclusion for families and $7,500 for individuals would put more money into the hands of all Americans with far broader choices of insurance, not limited by employers. For the lowest-income families, a new health insurance credit would help them purchase private insurance, tailored to their preferences and give them affordable access to the high-quality care all Americans want.
Empower consumers. We would expand access to health savings accounts by simplifying rules and regulations so that more Americans would have greater control over their health dollars. By greatly expanding the market for health insuranceand expanding competition among insurance companies to create coverage that is tailored to what Americans actually want to buy, rather than what government demands through excessive and costly mandateswe can drastically reduce the cost of insurance.
Make insurance portable. Instead of new employer mandates that further lock Americans into the expense and limitations of employer-provided insurance, we make health insurance affordable for all Americans, whether bought through their employer or not. Coverage becomes portable, so workers are not job locked for fear of losing health insurance and continuity of care while their choice of doctor is protected.
Limit state regulation. Too many Americans are unable to afford health insurance because of excessive mandates and regulations dictated by the states that raise the cost of health insurance nationwide by 20% to 45%, depending on the state. If a states mandates prevent affordable healthcare coverage, my plan would allow citizens to purchase coverage across state lines.
Make price, quality data transparent. Patients should have the information on quality, price and performance they need to make informed decisions about doctors and hospitals. That would spur competition and create new motivation for improving quality and reducing cost.
Manage chronic cases and prevent illness. We must create a health system that puts patients first, encourages healthy lifestyles and facilitates preventive care and wellness. Flexible heath savings accounts can promote these practices by placing employer dollars into accounts that allow more control and more savings, and increase access to user-friendly tools to assist with chronic-disease management.
Spend responsibly. We should reward states that come up with innovative approaches that increase access to affordable coverage, and reduce bureaucratic waste and fraud by injecting performance-based accountability into the system.
Make prescription drugs affordable. Americans enjoy broad access to new medications as well as high safety standards. I am committed to reforms that ensure timely access to the newest, most-effective drug treatments and competition to reduce costs. With the right policies, we can ensure medications are affordable and available for all Americans, while we protect consumers with rigorous safety standards without unnecessary administrative delay.
Reform tort laws. We must reform the legal system to protect patients, eliminate frivolous lawsuits and end the practice of defensive medicine. This would decrease the burdens they impose on the system, including limiting noneconomic damages and allowing states to test alternative dispute resolution methods.
Accelerate IT adoption. Information technology is a critical component of improving the overall quality of medical care, especially facilitating access for those living far from major metropolitan areas. My plan would accelerate implementation of electronic health records while facilitating health information exchange networks and standards for compatibility.
Our challenge is to build on the excellence of Americas health system while ensuring improved affordability and portability for all. Some candidates want to move toward a European-style system, which has proven to restrict access and interfere with personal choices.
My plan would lead the way toward excellence and affordability by moving in the opposite direction. Increasing competition, expanding choice and empowering individuals are the American way to transform healthcare.