For more than 20 years, I had the privilege of caring for patients in the metro Atlanta area — treating individuals and families from all walks of life with unique healthcare challenges. Each and every day, I was reminded of the fact that smart healthcare policies are those that enhance compassionate care, care that is reflective of the distinct needs and concerns of the patient and his or her family.
Unfortunately, that is exactly the opposite of what the American people will experience under the president’s healthcare law. It is neither a compassionate nor, as we have seen increasingly over the past few months, a competent way to solve America’s healthcare challenges.
Its rules, regulations and mandates violate every principle of healthcare we hold dear: affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, responsiveness and choices. Despite having three years to prepare, the White House is fumbling the rollout, most recently having to delay the implementation of its fundamental employer mandate. If they can’t even get their own law together in three years, how can they possibly deliver unique, quality healthcare for every patient?
Clearly, the administration’s “Washington-knows-best” strategy is failing the American people. It’s creating higher costs for families, fewer jobs for workers and fewer doctors practicing medicine. Meanwhile, trillions of dollars are being added to the federal debt, an immoral attack on the future prosperity of our children and grandchildren.
Since healthcare is one of the most personal and private aspects of our lives, healthcare reform must focus on allowing patients to make the kinds of decisions that work for them under the direction of their physicians. That is why I introduced H.R. 2300, the Empowering Patients First Act.
The Empowering Patients First Act focuses on four main objectives: ensure access to health coverage for all Americans; rein in out-of-control costs; solve insurance challenges, including portability and pre-existing illness; and improve the healthcare delivery structure. All of this can be accomplished by putting patients, families and doctors in charge of healthcare decisions, not Washington.
First, this plan fully repeals President Obama’s healthcare law because it is harmful to quality care and patients. Meaningful healthcare reform must begin with unraveling this takeover that is already destroying our healthcare system. Then we focus our energy on fixing what is broken because the status quo is unacceptable.
Two of the largest challenges to tackle are the issues of insurance portability and pre-existing conditions. If you change your job or lose your job, you ought to be able to take your healthcare coverage with you, just like a 401(k) plan. And in order to make sure no one is priced out of the health insurance market because of a pre-existing illness or injury, the Empowering Patients First Act provides for the creation of robust pooling plans that would ensure that any one person’s health status does not increase his or her costs or the costs of others in the same pool.
This patient-centered approach would help individuals and families have the financial wherewithal to afford the healthcare coverage they want for themselves and their families by providing a series of tax credits and deductions to help make coverage more affordable. To address rising healthcare costs, we can save hundreds of billions of dollars each year by enacting meaningful lawsuit abuse reform and ending the practice of defensive medicine. Allowing for the purchase of health coverage across state lines would also increase competition and lower prices.
As the harsh reality and innate failings of ObamaCare become more and more obvious, policymakers ought to take the opportunity to reform America’s healthcare system in a manner that solves challenges rather than creating another level of bureaucratic meddling in the personal lives of the American people. There are positive solutions that embrace the principles of quality healthcare, save hundreds of billions of dollars and don’t put Washington in charge or raise taxes. Advocates of a patient-centered approach stand ready to move forward.
Price, an M.D., has served Georgia’s 6th congressional district in the House of Representatives since 2005. He is vice chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. He also sits on the Ways and Means and the Education and the Workforce committees.