John J. Loughlin II: Socialized Medicine – Let’s Look Before We Leap
Our healthcare system is on life support. While the career politicians in Washington have done little, too many Rhode Islanders remain underinsured or uninsured. The system is characterized by rising costs, quality concerns and a lack of patient control. These problems hit the poor and the elderly hardest.
One of the chief reasons is that our healthcare system is governed by a complicated system of laws and regulations forcing patients and doctors through a maze of red tape. You’ll hear a lot in the coming weeks about a new administration socialized medicine program supported by Congressman Kennedy. More government can’t solve this problem because government is the problem.
Socialized medicine resulting in government-run healthcare is exactly the wrong direction for Rhode Islanders. If you think a government-run health system would be easy to use and efficient, I would encourage you to stop by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to see what a government-run system to deliver services would look like. Not a pretty picture. Socialized medicine would bring on more red tape, healthcare rationing and your medical decisions made by Washington bureaucrats rather than doctors. This would all come at an enormous cost in higher taxes and even more money borrowed from foreign governments on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
There are some common sense alternatives that I would encourage Congressman Kennedy to seriously consider as an alternative to government run socialized medicine. One such alternative is called the Patient’s Choice Act. This proposal would allow patients, not government bureaucrats, to choose their health insurance plans and their doctors. Patient’s Choice features preventative measures rewarding Rhode Islanders for choosing healthy lifestyles, with real incentives for states to reduce rates of chronic ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.
Our healthcare system should be easy to navigate and provide integrated care. The best way to achieve this is to create a vibrant health insurance market that is consistent, fair and affordable. New consumer protections would ensure that every Rhode Islander has access to the same benefits that have been enjoyed by Congressman Kennedy for the past 15 years.
The Patient’s Choice Act would protect the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders and ensure that no individual would be turned down based on health or age. Allowing states to pool their healthcare resources and creating reinsurance markets and risk adjustment mechanisms would provide coverage for those Rhode Islanders most at risk. By modernizing Medicaid and Medicare we would give low-income families the same access to high-quality care through direct assistance.
Creating Medicare Accountability Care organizations would also improve payment to our physicians, hospitals, pharmacists and nurses for demonstrable improvements in quality and patient satisfaction while reducing costs at the same time.
Our current legal system does a poor job at compensating patients for medical mistakes in a fair and efficient manner. Instead of creating an environment where medical professionals can openly learn from their mistakes, our legal system often forces doctors and patients into contentious and expensive courtroom disputes. This drives up the costs of health care with staggering costs for medical malpractice insurance we all pay for. Why not put in place a panel of medical experts, patients and healthcare providers to resolve disputes without costly legal fights?
Lastly, our current tax system is stacked in favor of the wealthy and those who get their health coverage through their employers. This discriminates against the self-employed, the unemployed, and small businesses. We need to provide advanced and refundable tax credits in order to increase the amount of money Rhode Islanders can contribute to their health savings accounts.
In short, we need to be very cautious about jumping headlong into a costly and infective socialized medicine government-run system like the one Congressman Kennedy is proposing. Let’s look before we leap and build an affordable system that makes the most of the doctor-patient relationship. We can craft a system to provide universal access to affordable and effective health care, without allowing our well being to be rationed by Washington bureaucrats.
State Representative John J. Loughlin II (R) represents District 71 (Little Compton, Portsmouth, and Tiverton).