Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R.-Ga.) is a larger-than-life personality. He was a constitutionalist before it was cool to be one. He was a “Tea Party” guy before we called it the Tea Party. Broun is a family physician who was practicing alternative ways to deliver health care in his hometown long before he was a congressman. Paul was a house-call doctor. You can’t get more hands-on than that.
Right now we need Dr. Broun to do a house call on ObamaCare, because it is sick. It’s an infection that will kill the best health care system in the world. This week, former President Bill Clinton took a swipe at our health care system and Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) at the World Economic Forum. Clinton said, “Michele Bachmann said in her Tea Party response to President Obama, ‘Everybody knows we have the greatest health care system in the world.’ That is factually untrue. And so … that’s not true.” Clinton continued, “You can get the best health care in the world in America if you are Bill Clinton, or David Gergen, or Turki Faisal, but that’s not the same thing as having the best system that works for everybody.” He went on to finish by saying, “I think what America needs as much as anything else is to stop conducting its politics in a parallel universe divorced from reality, with no facts.”
I think it is President Clinton that lives in a parallel universe. There are great free-market initiatives going on all over the country meeting the needs of people, without government intervention. And they don’t look anything like ObamaCare. Last week, Jackson Healthcare recognized 10 Charitable Programs of Excellence from hospitals around the country. These hospitals didn’t do this excellent work just to reach out to unserved or underserved parts of their communities, they did it because it was the right thing to do. Especially notable was Northeast Georgia Medical Center, which partnered with the health care community and the faith community to operate the Good News Clinic. This clinic has been providing thousands of visits a month to the poor and the working poor, from dental care to specialists. Physicians in the community were asked, “How many visits a month can you give in your office?” And they stepped up.
Between the clinic and a program called Health Access, the working poor can see primary care doctors, specialists, dentists, and other health care providers for little or no cost to them and get the medicines they need to manage their illnesses. The community responded and has supported this program for a generation, and ObamaCare would make it impossible for it to continue.
So what is the answer?
Broun has been working on this since he got to Congress. When the President says, “Bring me your ideas and I’ll consider them,” whether last year or to Bill O’Reilly last Sunday, he’s being disingenuous. There were 37-plus bills stalled in Congress last year, languishing in committee, or worse, ignored altogether. In this Congress, Broun’s HR 299 is a free-market, common-sense solution to ObamaCare. It is not the only solution out there, but it’s clearly the simplest and most connected to the free market, and the one that makes the most sense.
The latest Rasmussen poll shows that 55% of American voters want Congress to repeal ObamaCare. They understand the law will increase the cost of health care, but worse than that, will penalize small businesses and kill jobs. On the heels of the House passing legislation to repeal ObamaCare, we must recognize that work on the current system is necessary, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Broun’s bill is based on four incremental changes:
1. Allow individuals to deduct 100 percent of their health care expenses, including insurance.
2. Strengthen and expand new avenues for affordable health care for sick Americans through high-risk pools.
3. Expand choice and competition by allowing consumers to shop for health insurance across state lines.
4. Create association health plans, which would allow businesses, individuals, and any entity to form pools that would increase availability and allow their sheer size to negotiate lower costs for their employees or members.
This isn’t the whole answer, but it can serve as a foundation for free-market health care reforms. Health care costs got out of control as a result of government intervention, not because of the free market. Look at the parts of health care that are not covered by insurance or paid for by the government, and look at how the pricing structure moves. Like most things in a free market, the costs start out high for new procedures, but as time goes on, and more people are in the marketplace, and more people want the service, the costs adjust.
With the Judge Roger Vinson’s decision in Florida last week that essentially declared the health care reform law entirely void, Broun said, “This victory for constitutionalism was presented in a thorough, well-written brief citing the Founders’ intent in addition to the standard statements of precedent.” Broun noted one passage by Vinson in particular, in which the judge wrote, “This case is not about whether the [health care] Act is wise or unwise legislation. … In fact, it is not really about our health care system at all. It is principally about our federalist system, and it raises very important issues regarding the Constitutional role of our federal government.”
Broun’s resolution is a step in the right direction, and it addresses the real problems with health care delivery in America.