Op-Eds

Roe and Price: Plenty of alternatives to government health care

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Washington, July 24, 2012 | comments
By Reps. Tom Price and Phil Roe
Special to USA Today 


President Obama and congressional Democrats are proclaiming that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, those opposed to the president's health care law ought to sit down and keep quiet. The president has said, "The law I passed is here to stay." With all due respect, we and millions of Americans firmly and emphatically disagree.

What was bad policy before the Supreme Court's ruling is still bad policy today. That's why the plurality of Americans favor a repeal of the Democrats' health care law. They understand that it compromises the quality, accessibility and affordability of care. They also know that the law impedes a physician's ability to treat patients, drastically decreases medical innovation and significantly limits choices in health care.

Last week, we voted to fully repeal the president's health care law. The 112th Congress has voted to defund, dismantle or repeal some or all of President Obama's health care overhaul more than 30 times, and we will not rest until it is no longer the law of the land. This will obviously require a Senate willing to cooperate on improving America's health care system and a president in the White House willing to accept the principle that patients, families and doctors should be making medical decisions, not Washington. We have absolutely no doubt that, as president, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will make repealing this disastrous law a top priority, beginning the first day of his administration.

Even so, life after repeal contains many health care challenges. The status quo is simply unacceptable. We need a system that is more responsive and affordable to meet the needs of America's patients and those who care for them.

The good news is that we can expand access to health care without putting government in charge. There are reforms that will keep patients, families and doctors at the center of health care and curtail the power of Washington bureaucrats.

There are a number of proposals crafted to address concerns facing health care. Those of us who favor patient-centered reforms are united on a few important policy imperatives. Much greater access is easily achieved by providing both financial incentives and feasibility for everyone to be able to purchase the coverage that best suits their needs, not Washington's. We must also make insurance portable. Insurance policies must be associated with the individual so he or she may keep an insurance policy in the event of a job change or job loss. Individuals will have greater health care freedom if they own the coverage themselves.

We should also permit the purchase of insurance across state lines. We see the benefits of such a practice within the car insurance industry. Individuals enjoy a more competitive marketplace where companies lower their prices to attract customers. The same ought to hold true for health insurance. And while we are at it, why not let millions of Americans group together to make coverage more affordable? This could be achieved through the establishment of association health plans or other types of robust pooling mechanisms that create purchasing power for those in the individual or small group health insurance market.

Additionally, we ought to eliminate the practice of defensive medicine. Meaningful lawsuit abuse reform would free up doctors to responsibly practice medicine without the fear of unreasonable litigation. This change would dramatically lower health care costs, making care and coverage more affordable for individuals and employers.

These and other reforms can be accomplished while ensuring health care remains patient-centered and government remains limited.

Lastly, unlike our Democratic colleagues, we do not believe in driving our nation off a fiscal cliff by enacting a law that costs American taxpayers trillions of dollars over a decade at a time when we can least afford it. We are also dedicated to advancing legislation that encourages economic growth, not stifle it through taxes on our families and small businesses.

Patient-centered reforms should be passed in a manner that is open, transparent and inclusive. Bipartisan agreement ought to lead to common-sense solutions that truly improve America's health care system.

In its ruling, the court took no position on the wisdom of the president's health care law. That decision is left to the American people. With their support, we remain fully committed to repealing the law so that we may pursue solutions that put patients and their families first.

Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, is an orthopedic surgeon by profession. Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee is an OB-GYN. Both are members of the GOP Doctors Caucus.
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