Opinion

Provide health care reforms that increase access, reduce costs and protect consumer choice

Many see the recent election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown as a referendum on President Obama’s federal health care bill. Brown said he would vote against the measure if elected, and now Democrats in Congress are determining what they can salvage from the proposed government-run plan.

Most people agree our health care system needs significant revisions. If you are one of the 11 percent in Washington (15 percent nationwide) without health insurance and cannot afford health care, it is a crisis. If you fear that a hospital visit or medical procedure could send you and your family into bankruptcy, it is a crisis.

There are many reasons why health care needs to be reformed. But at the heart of the battle is the question of just how much control should the government have in our most personal health care needs and decisions? And will government involvement only increase the problem and destroy the best quality care in the world?

It may take time for Congress to pass a federal health care bill. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot be making changes here in Washington that could reduce costs and make health care more accessible for employees, employers and families.

The fourth plank in our House Republican “Made in Washington” jobs agenda is to “provide health care reforms that increase access, reduce costs and protect consumer choice.” We believe reforms should keep health care patient-centered, rather than government-centered, protect the doctor-patient relationship, lower costs, provide more access to treatment, protect the quality of health care with less interference from insurance companies and government bureaucrats, and assist those who truly need it.

Our 10-point health care reform plan could be implemented this year, regardless of congressional action. It includes:

1. Purchasing more affordable health care plans across state lines (House Bill 1871).

2. Providing more benefit plan options that meet the needs and budgets of small employers (House Bill 1868).

3. Allowing health care plans to be designed to specifically meet the needs and budgets of young adults (19-34 year olds) (House Bill 1866).

4. Implementing Health Savings Accounts for state employees (House Bill 2875).

5. Encouraging health care innovation for more options and choices by repealing “certificate of need” laws (House Bill 1867).

6. Allowing the option of purchasing a customized health care plan that does not include unneeded services that are currently mandated (House Bill 1865).

7. Cutting taxes on health care plans and giving a tax credit to small employers and self-employed individuals who provide health insurance (House Bill 1872).

8. Reforming the Basic Health Plan into a premium-subsidy program for legal Washington residents ages 35 to 64. (House Bill 2807).

9. Providing health care liability reform that prevents lawsuit abuse. (House Bill 2814).

10. Protecting the rights of Washingtonians to make their own health care choices (House Bill 2669).

Health care premiums are costly to employers. If we could lower those costs while retaining quality care and increasing access, it would free up resources so that employers in Washington state could expand and hire again. It would also help families who are struggling to pay bills or simply cannot afford health insurance.

Putting people back to work, providing policies for an increased, affordable energy supply, and enacting true health care reform for consumers is our “Made in Washington” goal.

Read more about our Made in Washington plan from my Web site at www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.

State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at 360-786-7967 or e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.

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