Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bosse Unveils Comprehensive Health Care Plan

Gives patients and doctors more power; boosts choices for veterans

(Lebanon) Republican Grant Bosse today unveiled a comprehensive Health Care Plan that would increase the power of doctors and patients to make health care decisions, make health insurance more affordable, and increase health care choices for America’s veterans.

“America has the best health care in the world, but we’ve designed a health insurance system that makes it too difficult and too expensive for everyone to use,” Bosse said. “By reducing mandates, increasing choice, and giving our veterans more control over their health care benefits, we can bring down the cost of health care and improve medical results.”

The Bosse Health Care Plan contained ten recommendations to lower the amount of Congressional interference in the health care marketplace, lower health insurance premiums, and improve the standard of care for America’s veterans:

• Provide full deductibility for health insurance premiums.
• Focus Veterans Administration resources on service-related care.
• Give veterans access to private hospitals for general health care needs.
• Expand use of Health Savings Accounts.
• Allow Small Business Health Plans.
• Allow Interstate Insurance Choice.
• Reform Medicare to allow consumer choice.
• End Defensive Medicine by capping non-economic malpractice awards.
• Increase flexibility for Community Health Centers.
• Support Medical Information Technology.

Bosse unveiled the plan before a tour of David’s House in Lebanon, a home away from home for children receiving care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. For more information on Bosse’s Health Care Plan, log onto

Bosse Health Care Plan

Rising health care costs are putting America’s incredible health care system out of reach of many Americans, straining local and state budgets, and making it much more difficult for businesses to supply health insurance benefits to their employees. Yet these rising costs are driven largely by three factors not directly related to the quality of care patients receive: an aging population, defensive medicine, and insurance mandates.

Current federal policy ignores these challenges, and prevents competition and choice from bringing down health care spending. Overall health care spending is increasing at alarming rates, without any evidence that these extra dollars are providing better medical outcomes. By removing barriers between patients and doctors, the Bosse Health Care Plan would help ensure that health care spending led to healthier patients.

1) Provide full deductibility for health insurance premiums.

Large businesses deduct the cost of employee health benefits from their taxes, making it more affordable to offer health insurance to their workers. By allowing small business and the self-employed to take similar deductions, health insurance benefits would cost less. By allowing taxpayers to take these deductions on their individual taxes, consumers could decide for themselves whether to obtain health coverage through their employers or through the private marketplace.

2) Focus Veterans Administration resources on service-related care.

The Veterans Administration hospitals should provide our servicemen and women the best possible service-related care. However, we can not expect a government bureaucracy to compete with the innovation and flexibility of the private sector in delivering general health care services. By concentrating limited VA resources on service-related injuries and diseases, we can improve medical outcomes for veterans, while supporting research into the unique health challenges facing the military.

3) Give veterans access to private hospitals for general health care needs.

Our nation’s veterans should not be relegated into a second-class health care system, yet this is precisely what current federal policy dictates. By limiting veterans benefits to the VA System, veterans are forced to choose between receiving less than the best possible care, or paying for private health care out of pocket. If general or specialty treatments are not available in the VA System, veterans who have earned benefits should be able to obtain treatment at outside hospitals. Sen. John McCain has proposed such a change under Tri-Care.

4) Expand use of Health Savings Accounts for Veterans.

The use of Health Savings Accounts, along with High Deductible Health Plans for catastrophic care, has expanded greatly since first signed into law in 2003, and has greatly expanded choice and lowered health care spending for those eligible. But there are still several restrictions on HSAs that limit their availability to veterans. Anyone who has received care from the VA System within the last three months is not eligible for an HAS, and veterans under Tri-Care can not set up HSAs because Tri-Care does not offer High Deductible Health Plans. Removing these restrictions would give veterans access to the same

5) Allow Small Business Health Plans.

Because health insurance rates are set based on the relative risk of those covered, small businesses with few employees have difficulty spreading this risk and lowering costs. By allowing small businesses to pool their employees into larger groups, Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs) would reduce administrative expenses, create greater bargaining power, and lead to lower costs from a broader risk pool. Similar legislation has received majority support from both Houses of Congress in the past, but has consistently been blocked by Democratic leadership.

6) Allow Interstate Insurance Choice.

Consumers looking for competitive health insurance are currently at the mercy of state regulators, who routinely impose costly and inefficient mandates on health insurance coverage. By requiring insurers to cover unnecessary and often counter-productive treatments, competition and incentive for efficiency are driven from the health insurance marketplace. Health insurance companies are forced to offer overly expensive plans with unwanted benefits, or forced out of the state completely. Allowing consumers to purchase insurance from companies licensed in any state would instantly restore competition to this industry, and free consumers from the tyranny of state regulators.

7) Reform Medicare to allow consumer choice.

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has proposed giving new Medicare recipients the choice of remaining in the current Medicare program, or instead receiving a payment to enroll in a private health care plan. This payment, indexed to medical costs, would go directly to the Medicare-approved insurance provider, with any access going directly to the recipient. This would give seniors receiving Medicare greater control over their health care decisions.

8) End Defensive Medicine by capping non-economic malpractice awards.

Diagnostic costs are rising twice as fast as other medical expenses, in large part because doctors feel pressures to order costly and unnecessary tests in order to avoid nuisance lawsuits. By capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice awards, doctors would be freed from the threat of unlimited liability for unforeseen medical complications. While holding negligent doctors accountable for their mistakes, liability reform would lower the crushing malpractice premiums that are driving medical specialists out of rural areas like Northern New Hampshire.

9) Increase flexibility for Community Health Centers.

Currently Community Health Centers must be publically owned in order to qualify for federal assistance as Federally Qualified Health Center. By allowing private hospitals, often the only health providers in rural areas, to compete for federal assistance, Congress could remove a significant barrier for private medical service to rural areas. Federally Qualified Health Centers receive higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, receive medical liability coverage through the Federal Tort Claims Act, access prescription drugs at reduced cost, and can participate in the Vaccine for Children Program. Allowing private hospitals to qualify for these benefits would help restore competition in medically underserved areas.

10) Support Medical Information Technology.

As health care costs rise, one area that promises lower costs is Medical Information Technology. By leveraging this technology to streamline medical records, Medical IT leads to lower administrative costs, fewer medical errors, and better health care outcomes. Existing federal programs should prioritize improvements in Medical IT that lead to greater accuracy and efficiency, while protecting the privacy of patients’ medical records.

Much of the high cost of health care can’t be fixed by government action; even by removing the barriers Congress has placed in the health care marketplace. Americans are living longer, leading to drastically higher spending at the end of life. Perhaps most alarmingly, Americans are eating too much and not exercising enough. Such lifestyle choices are well beyond the well-intentioned interference of government bureaucrats. But by freeing the health insurance marketplace from mandates and restrictions, we can use the free market to provide incentives for healthier living. Customers who eat right, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and make other good lifestyle choices are healthier and cheaper to insure. In a free market, this would mean lower health insurance rates, and provide real incentives to live healthier. We don’t need Congress to make these lifestyle choices for us. We need Congress to get out of the way.

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