June 6, 2012 | Issue Brief on Health Care
The insurmountable problems with Obamacare are well documented. It is unworkable and moves the health care system further in the wrong direction, increasing costs to families and adding to the country’s debt. It also empowers the government—not the individual patient—to control health care dollars and decisions. Over time, Americans will be more dependent on the government and government programs for their health care.
For those who believe in more freedom, less government, and lower health care costs, there is a better way. First, there is no “fixing” Obamacare; it must be fully repealed. The underlying law is so flawed that instead of trying to right its wrongs, it is better to just start over.
Once Obamacare is repealed, the next Congress must take transparent and thoughtful steps to help solve the problems that remain in the health care system by putting power back in the hands of the American people. Congress should focus on the main obstacles that still stand in the way of reaching a true patient-centered, market-based model—by reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax treatment of health insurance and enacting commonsense insurance reforms. Just as importantly, Congress should move such policy changes through the normal process so they can be fully debated and vetted—and, if necessary, on a piece-by-piece basis.
A Plan for the Future
The blueprint for such a vision is outlined in The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan. This comprehensive fiscal plan to fix the debt, cut spending, and restore prosperity incorporates health care reform. These health reforms are based on the principles of individual choice and market competition, where individuals, not the government, are empowered to control health care dollars and decisions. These steps would set incentives to make the health care sector more accountable to the patient. To achieve these goals, Congress should focus on the following policies.
Obamacare is, at its core, incompatible with a patient-centered, market-based model for health care. It transfers massive power to Washington bureaucrats, reduces patient choice, and adds to the country’s fiscal troubles. Therefore, the top policy priority should be fully repealing the law.
Return to the Basics
As noted, after repeal, Congress should turn its attention to confronting the major policy obstacles standing in the way of advancing a patient-centered, market-based system. The three basic policy challenges, as outlined in Saving the American Dream, are:
Better Care For All—At a Lower Cost
Congress should not try to save Obamacare; it should repeal it. From there, Congress should not ignore the challenges in health care, but instead get back to the basics and pursue policy changes that give control of dollars and decisions to patients, not the government. By focusing on health care entitlements, the tax treatment of health insurance, and commonsense insurance market reforms, Congress would ensure that Americans benefit from better care at a lower cost.
Nina Owcharenko is Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
Stuart M. Butler, Alison Acosta Fraser, and William W. Beach, eds., Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity, The Heritage Foundation, 2011, at http://savingthedream.org/about-the-plan/plan-details/.
Robert E. Moffit, “The Second Stage of Medicare Reform: Moving to a Premium Support Program,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2626, November 28, 2011, at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/11/the-second-stage-of-medicare-reform-moving-to-a-premium-support-program.
Nina Owcharenko, “Medicaid Reform: More than a Block Grant Is Needed,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3590, May 4, 2012, at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/05/three-steps-to-medicaid-reform.