NPR ran a story several days ago about the “conservative” strategy as it relates to health care “repeal and replace.” As you may be aware, public media (radio and television)  is under budget scrutiny itself perhaps in part because they are an unbiased source of reporting. This story reports on a memo from the director of FreedomWorks to members of the House Republican party regarding ObamaCare dated February 14, 2011. The memo, found here, identifies the “conservative principles” that this group (a group claiming to speak for TEA party affiliated Americans) believes should inform our new health care system:

1. Every intelligent, adult human being has a right to make his or her own health care choices.
2. Patients are customers and have a right to shop around and take their business elsewhere.
3. Health care professionals have a right to be paid for their services, at market rates.
4. Doctors and patients should have the right to freely enter into contracts with each other.
5. People should bear the consequences of their own free choices.
6. People should be free to opt out of public insurance programs.
7. In a free society, the moral way to help those who are less fortunate is through private charity — or failing that, through targeted subsidies — not mandates and regulations.

I don’t feel compelled to address each of these “principles” independently. I will say that collectively they will lead to some folks paying a little less into the system (although recent history suggests they will be suckered into spending more on unneeded care), most folks paying about the same (and continuing to spend money poorly), and some folks running out of health care and suffering the market based consequences. Our experience in Mobile suggests #7 is especially problematic.

What do they propose replacing ObamaCare with? They propose a voluntary portable system of coverage for health problems so people can opt out should they choose. Just as people can opt out of driving and walk to work, they should be able to seek other alternatives to government-funded health care.  Secondly, they do support funded high risk pools. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act they were seen as too expensive for people to use but interestingly are being used more now making repeal a little problematic.Thirdly, they believe that transparent pricing would help people make better health decisions. Unfortunately people have never used price effectively in health care but perhaps this time they’ll do a better job. Fourth, fifth,and sixth converting Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance to a defined contribution plan and letting the patients negotiate their care. Given that 10% of patients account for 90% of the costs, there’s going to be a bunch of people with money left over and some folks who run out of health care in July every year unless we fix the catastrophic care problem. Laslty, they believe that the states can lower health care costs by reducing regulation. Hard to see how that is any different than before the ACA passed.

In trying to figure out who could best offer a response to these points, I again found myself at HealthCare.gov. This is a very good site. it includes information about the Affordable Care Act, how to stay healthy, how to pick out an insurance plan, how to pick a health provider based on quality, and allows you to personalize this information. Although I find much to disagree with in Freedomworks proposed “replacement” for the ACA, I am grateful that I was led to the improved website and encourage everyone to go there for unbiased, updated information. For that, Mr Armey, thank you.

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