What to make of health-care reform

We are starting to hear a lot about health-care reform at the national level. President Obama and his top advisors have promised major legislation by August and I take them at their word.

Let’s start with something most of us agree on: there is a health-care crisis. Solutions must move forward; however, we must get them right. Too often we see legislation pass and problems declared solved, only to learn later that these actions actually made problems worse.

Our two biggest challenges are containing health-care costs and addressing our uninsured population. The cost for a family health benefit plan has nearly tripled since 2000, while small business health benefit plan costs have more than doubled in this same time period. Around 11 percent of Washingtonians are without health insurance, with just more than half being between the ages of 19 and 34.

I’m guided by five principles as a member of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. First, people make better decisions about their health care than politicians and bureaucrats. Second, quality health care means getting the care you need, when you need it. Third, all solutions must take into account costs. Fourth, the private sector must be a part of solutions, which means creating a health insurance market in which competition drives down costs. Finally, an expansion of government-run health care will lead to more costs and fewer choices.

I recently joined my fellow House Republicans in sending a letter to our federal delegation in Congress. We expressed concerns about proposals they were considering and shared our nine-point plan.

Our balanced legislation is based on increasing access, reducing costs and providing quality health care to all families. These bills involve health insurance approved in other states, health savings accounts, choices for small employers, tax credits on health-care plans, core-benefit plans, young-adult plans, health-care provider innovation and cost transparency. We also offer solutions for the state’s Basic Health Plan, which recently saw drastic cuts that will impact some of our most vulnerable citizens.

House Bill 1869, which I sponsored and involved cost transparency, was the only measure from our package to pass this year. A lot of work remains to be done.

I know how important health-care issues are for small businesses and families. Please stay tuned. If you would like to look at the aforementioned letter and nine-point plan, please visit my Web site at http://www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/Bailey/ and click on “News & Info.”

Representative Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, serves the 10th Legislative District. She is the ranking Republican on the House Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and a member of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

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