Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Senate GOP Health Care Reform Bill

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Heartland Policy Experts comment on the newest Senate GOP Health Care Reform proposal.

Michael Hamilton, Research Fellow

“Congressional Republicans are exhibiting willful ignorance of the lessons Obamacare should have taught them. Subsidizing health insurers is not a sound basis for a health care system, in theory or in fact.”

Republicans in the United States Senate on Thursday released their version of bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. It differs significantly from the American Health Care Act, which the House passed in May, so the two bills will need to be reconciled in committee, or the House will have to take up the Senate version as-is, if it passes.

The following statements from health care policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at media(at)heartland(dot)org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.
“States laboring under the yoke of Obamacare mandates will gain a new master, but little else under the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act. This proposed revision of the Affordable Care Act keeps Obamacare’s regulatory structure in place and dilutes incentives for states to stop expanding Medicaid.

“Congressional Republicans are exhibiting willful ignorance of the lessons Obamacare should have taught them. Subsidizing health insurers is not a sound basis for a health care system, in theory or in fact.”

Michael Hamilton
Research Fellow, Health Care Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News
mhamilton(at)heartland(dot)org 312/377-4000
“This bill zeroes out the penalties for not buying an unaffordable, undesirable product (the individual and employer mandates), but continues the mandates that make health plans unaffordable: guaranteed issue, community rating, and restrictions on true insurance. Republicans don’t seem to understand that one does not lower costs or make them affordable by forcing somebody else – in this case, taxpayers or low-risk enrollees – to pay them.

“The bill redistributes wealth, continuing the funding of the swamp. The right answer is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a free market. For problems that result, seek targeted solutions. If this bill passes, individuals and states need to make maximal use of escape hatches.”

Jane M. Orient, M.D. Executive Director
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
janeorientmd(at)gmail(dot)com 520/323-3110
“Reforming Obamacare forces on us the stark reality that in lawmaking, perfection gives way to imperfection; but at least, it moves in the right direction. The GOP reforms leave Washington, DC with far too much control over individual health care, but they take significant steps toward greater state-level control – and that is good.

“Creating a free market for health care remains elusive. It is incumbent on us who believe in individual liberty and responsibility to keep working to advance marketplace reforms – such as direct-pay independent practice, reference-based payments for care, health savings accounts (HSAs), and other such devices.”

Dave Racer
Policy Advisor, Health Care
The Heartland Institute
media(at)heartland(dot)org 312/377-4000
“The Senate’s Better Care Act has some good features, including repealing most of Obamacare’s taxes, repealing the individual and employer mandates, and capping the growth of Medicaid. Unfortunately it does not go far enough. Congress needs to repeal Obamacare’s onerous insurance regulations and allow people to buy affordable health coverage. States need increased flexibility to regulate health insurance and allowing insurers to design health plans consumers prefer.”

Devon Herrick
Senior Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
devon.herrick(at)ncpa(dot)org 972/308-6470
“My biggest disappointment is that we may be squandering a truly once-in-a-generation opportunity to restructure the incentives of our health care system. Instead of focusing the incentives back on the patient, this bill focuses on insurance subsidizes rather than subsidizing the provision of actual care. By doing so, we perpetuate the false argument that the end goal is simply possessing insurance policies instead of making care affordable and attainable – which insurance, counter-intuitively, actually makes more difficult to achieve.”

Chad Savage, M.D.
Founder, YourChoice Direct Care
Policy Advisor, Health Care Policy
The Heartland Institute
chad.savage(at)yourchoicedirectcare(dot)com 810/224-5300
“Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion was an expansion of a system that encourages states to waste money at the expense of the federal taxpayer – and a lot spent on no patient care at all. If better health care outcomes is truly the desired result of policy makers, then Medicaid should be severely shrunk, not expanded.

“Multiple studies have shown that Medicaid recipients have worse health care outcomes than those who are uninsured. The quicker the Medicaid expansion is eliminated, the less taxpayer money is wasted, and the better health care for the poor.”

Gerard Gianoli, M.D.
The Ear and Balance Institute
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“Both the House and Senate versions of the repeal/replace of Obamacare miss the point because they address the wrong issue. Both of these measures, including the recently introduced Senate bill, only address the question of how to pay for health care. This is not the fundamental question. The fundamental question is how to make health care itself cost less. If all we do is think about how to pay for health care, any proposed solution will only make the health care beast bigger and more expensive.

“Until the role of third parties is reduced, and consumer-driver downward pressure is brought to bear on health care costs, the problem will not be solved.”

Mike Koriwchak, M.D.
Vice President
Docs4PatientCare Foundation
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
mjk.d4pcf(at)gmail(dot)com 312/377-4000
“The Senate health care reform bill works within the confines of reconciliation and is similar to the House bill on fundamentals. It is not a comprehensive repeal and replacement of Obamacare. It does, however, essentially eliminate the individual mandate, repeals the Obamacare taxes, provides the first meaningful reform to the Medicaid entitlement, and gives states more control over their health care systems. The Senate bill provides billions of dollars to cover the most vulnerable Americans. Like the House bill, it is a good starting point for health care reform.”

Roger Stark
Health Care Policy Analyst, Washington Policy Center
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
rstark(at)washingtonpolicy(dot)org 25/881-0611
“The Senate’s health care bill is an important step in the right direction. The plan strengthens Medicaid and reduces Obamacare taxes, but stops short of repealing the root cause of skyrocketing costs: voluminous mandates. So, it’s up to states like Pennsylvania to seek waivers to repeal harmful rules and drive down the cost of care.”

Elizabeth B. Stelle Director of Policy Analysis, Commonwealth Foundation
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
ebs(at)commonwealthfoundation(dot)org 717/798-9784
“This legislation is a small step in the right direction. Repealing the individual mandate by making the fine $0 is a rational first step. Allowing states greater autonomy via a variety of block grants, waivers, and work requirements invites 50 experiments that might be used to generate new ideas that could be shared nationwide. Allowing the state to determine the medical loss ratio sounds like a powerful tool, but I’ve always thought that this attempt to fix margins simply turns health insurance companies into glorified utilities by penalizing any attempts they make at increasing efficiency. We should encourage insurance companies to sell real insurance (for truly unexpected events) rather than selling inefficient, ineffective, and overpriced prepaid medical care policies.

“Obamacare has taught us that attempting to pay for care via a variety of mechanisms does not really increase access. If we want to increase access, the more effective way to do this is to lower the cost of care. Costs fall when physicians and hospitals jump off the third party payment hamster wheel and focus on providing care to the patient in a low overhead environment. When patients start asking physicians, ‘How much does it cost?’, and physicians are willing to answer this question in a rational way, then access will actually increase.”

Phil Eskew, M.D.
General Counsel and VP of Clinical Development
Proactive MD
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
“The bill is a disappointment. It’s little more than repeal in name only. And its ideas for replacement are almost indistinguishable from the Obamacare status quo. Within hours of the bill’s release, four Republican senators – Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson – said that they could not support it in its current form. Several others from across the party’s ideological spectrum have reacted tepidly but stopped short of rejecting the bill outright. It will not pass if any more than two Republicans defect.

“McConnell and company can only blame themselves for this predicament. Republicans have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years. This bill doesn’t do that. Any bill that does not fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with market-oriented, patient-centered reforms deserves to be rejected.”

Sally Pipes
President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
spipes(at)pacificresearch(dot)org 415/955-6100
The Heartland Institute is a 33-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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