Newt Gingrich Offers Obama 10 Ideas for Health Care Reform

Recently, President Barack Obama challenged Republicans to come up with better ideas on how to improve health care – and it seems that they’ve made their first attempt to meet his challenge. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Republicans Newt Gingrich and John C. Goodman came up with 10 ideas for improving health care reform.

1. Make Insurance Affordable

Gingrich and Goodman say that current taxation of health insurance is unfair – especially for giving subsidies to some and not others. They feel that fixing the dollar amount for health insurance would lower costs. Also, they propose giving Americans to choice of a generous tax credit or the ability to deduct the value of their health insurance.

2. Make Health Insurance Portable

The Republicans also suggested changing federal policy so that employers are encouraged to provide employees with insurance that travels with them from job to job – and in and out of the labor market. Also, they say that insurance should be offered across state lines to increase competition among insurers and lower prices for consumers.

3. Meet the Needs of the Chronically Ill

They suggest making individuals with chronic diseases in charge of their own care, including having devices at home and being taught when to change medication so that doctors won’t need to be involved as much. Also, they suggest recommending that consumers manage their health dollars in Health Savings Accounts. And they also want health plans to specialize in specific diseases rather than being comprehensive. This, they say, will stop insurers from having to take high-cost patients for cut-rate premiums, something that results in rejection.

4. Allow Doctors and Patients to Control Costs

Gingrich and Goodman say that currently, doctors and patients are trapped by government-imposed payment rates. In other words, they suggest that doctors are paid by task – only for helping patients when sick – not for advising them on ways to stay healthy. They suggest that doctors have the freedom to repackage and reprise their services – and payment should be based on the quality of care delivered.

5. Don’t Cut Medicare

Another suggestion is that Medicare not be cut as is proposed in current health care reform bills. They say that while Medicare is on an unsustainable course, it’s not a good idea to cut Medicare only to create new unfunded liabilities.

6. Protect Early Retirees

Gingrich and Goodman note that “more than 80 percent of the 78 million baby boomers will likely retire before they become eligible for Medicare.” Because they could be left without health insurance in this bridge phase, they suggest allowing employers to obtain individually-owned insurance for their retirees at group rates. They say, that if younger employees take advantage of this by depositing some or all of the premium amount for post-retirement insurance into a Health Savings account, they could give the the ability to save for post-retirement health tax-free.

7. Inform Consumers

Number seven on the list of ideas was for patients to have access to clear, reliable data about cost and quality before the make decisions regarding their care. Right now, they say, finding this information is very difficult; however, they say that all data should be made public.

8. Eliminate Junk Lawsuits

They suggest that the days of needing to study and test medical malpractice are over. Now, they say, rather than having “junk lawsuits” for medical malpractice resulting in pain and suffering or the like, they want to follow states like Texas that have implemented liability protection. They want to cap non-economic damages where patients get compensated for “unexpected, adverse medical outcomes without lawyers, courtrooms, judges and juries.”

9. Stop Health-Care Fraud

They suggest that one reason health care and health insurance costs are out of control is because up to $120 billion is stolen by those who defraud public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. by using enhanced coordination of benefits, third-party liability verification and electronic payment, some of the fraud could be prevented.

10. Make Medical Breakthroughs Accessible to Patients

When breakthrough drugs, innovative devices and new therapies are introduced, the Republicans suggest that they be introduced to the market right away. They suggest that by “cutting red tape before and during review by the Food and Drug Administration” as well as “deploying information technology to monitor the quality of drugs and devices once they reach the market place,” patients will be given access faster.

On Sunday, Obama called for a health care summit that would allow the two parties to put their ideas on the table regarding health care reform. Well, now at least the president has an idea of what the Republicans want before the meeting occurs.

Do you agree with any of the Republicans’ ideas for health care reform? How do you think it will affect health insurance rates?