Last week, Liz Mair of the RNC guest-posted here at BlogHer, and asked what issues would be on readers’ minds as you head to the polls in November.
Many of you responded that health care was a major concern. So, as one of John McCain’s economic advisers and someone who speaks frequently about his plans for reforming and improving health care across the United States, I thought I might take the opportunity to fill the BlogHer community in on the main features of the McCain health care plan and what John McCain believes we can accomplish by implementing it. In the simplest terms, John McCain’s goal is to make health insurance easier and more affordable to acquire and make it innovative and portable — objectives which, when met, will drive down the number of uninsured Americans while ensuring increased access to better quality health care, overall.
John McCain’s plan builds on the current system and allows for greater choices for American families that more uniquely fit their needs, including allowing families to keep their existing coverage. He believes that Americans should be able to purchase health insurance in a national market, across state lines, should they so desire. That will, in turn, drive insurance rates down and simultaneously allow Americans access to a greater diversity of insurance plans — meaning that purchasers of insurance will be able to acquire coverage better tailored to their needs, at a lower cost. Because John McCain plans to offer a tax credit of $5,000 per family, or $2,500 per individual, to purchase insurance, Americans will have viable options for acquiring personal, as opposed to just employer-provided, insurance. That, in turn, will increase portability — a key concern for women, many of whom are self-employed and who tend to change jobs with greater frequency than men — and who want to make sure our health insurance follows us wherever we may go.
But those are not the only components of what John McCain is proposing with regard to health care. In addition, he plans to expand the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and bring down actual health care costs (as opposed to insurance costs). In part, this would be accomplished by bringing greater competition to our pharmaceutical markets via safe reimportation of drugs and faster introduction of generic drugs into the market. It also would be accomplished by focusing federal research efforts on curing chronic disease, promoting new treatment models, rewarding quality and encouraging preventive health care. Incredibly, treating chronic disease accounts for three-quarters of America’s annual health care bill. So, getting chronic disease under control will help bring costs under control, while improving Americans’ health, overall.
Increasing transparency with regard to health care costs also is critical. Too frequently, patients find themselves in the dark when it comes to medical costs and outcomes, which does nothing to promote keeping costs down and quality high. John McCain wants prices and doctors’ and hospitals’ ratings up on the Internet for everyone to see — and he firmly believes that will serve to promote quality treatment while helping to drive costs down.
No American should be denied access to quality coverage simply because of a pre-existing condition. This is an important priority for John McCain. He would work with the states to make sure that those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions would have access to health coverage, via a Guaranteed Access Plan (GAP). The model for that would be formulated on the basis of the best experience of individual states. However, one approach might be to establish a nonprofit corporation that would contract with insurers to provide coverage to patients previously denied insurance, and which could partner with other state plans to broaden insurance pools and reduce overhead costs. The bottom line is that under a GAP established pursuant to John McCain’s health care plan, premiums would be limited at a reasonable level and assistance would be available for Americans below a given income level.
For the 47 million Americans currently without health insurance, John McCain’s plan will do a great deal to decrease the cost of care and increase the accessibility of coverage and it will bring this startlingly high number down. Most importantly, however, it will do this without putting government bureaucrats and regulations in between women and their doctors, and without restricting personal choice, as Barack Obama’s plan surely would do.
For that simple reason, I’m a strong supporter of the approach to health care that John McCain advocates — and I hope that my explanation of exactly how he aims to reform our health care system has offered the BlogHer community some insight into how American health care would improve under a McCain presidency. Of course, both John and I would love to hear your feedback.
Carly Fiorina is the Victory '08 Chairman for the Republican National Committee, the Chairman and CEO of Fiorina Enterprises and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Hewlett-Packard Company. She and her husband Frank have two daughters and two granddaughters. They split their time between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.
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