In Brief: the 2008 GOP National Platform – Health Care

Part six of our review of the National Platform brings us to a topic that certainly has dominated the news for many months. Here is the chapter title and sections:

Health Care Reform:  Putting Patients First

First Principle:  Do No Harm

Patient Control and Portability

Improving Quality of Care and Lowering Costs

Prevent Disease and End the “Sick Care” System

Empower Individuals to Make the Best Health Care Choices.

Use Health Information Technology to Save Lives

Protect Good Health Care Providers from Frivolous Lawsuits

Reward Good Health Care Providers for Delivering Real Results

Drive Costs Down With Interstate Competition

Modernize Long-Term Care Options for All

Encourage Primary Care as a Specialty

Funding Medical Research

Protecting Rights of Conscience

Medicare

Medicaid

Building a Health Care System for Future Emergencies

So much good information has been made available in this calendar year about needed health care reform that it’s not really necessary to read the Platform on the topic except as a historical reference.

Before Obama became president – and before the Democrats won Congress – Republicans supported all the right reforms in health care. Unfortunately our GOP leaders haven’t been effective as Democrats in driving the issue to the fore.

Here are the introductory remarks:

“Americans have the best doctors, the best hospitals, the most innovative medical technology, and the best scientists in the world. Our challenge and opportunity is to build around them the best health care system. Republicans believe the key to real reform is to give control of the health care system to patients and their health care providers, not bureaucrats in government or business.”

Under “First Principle: Do No Harm” – is this:

“How do we ensure that all Americans have the peace of mind that comes from owning high-quality, comprehensive health coverage? The first rule of public policy is the same as with medicine: Do no harm.

The American people rejected Democrats’ attempted government takeover of health care in 1993, and they remain skeptical of politicians who would send us down that road.  Republicans support the private practice of medicine and oppose socialized medicine in the form of a government-run universal health care system.”

What follows is a list of pledges regarding the GOP’s approach to reforming the health care system. Included are these:

  • We will protect citizens against any and all risky restructuring efforts that would complicate or ration health care.
  • We will not put the system on a path that empowers Washington bureaucrats at the expense of patients.
  • We will not raise taxes instead of reducing health care costs.
  • We will not replace the current system with the staggering inefficiency, maddening irrationality, and uncontrollable costs of a government monopoly.

The Platform states: “Radical restructuring of health care would be unwise.”

“We will continue to advocate for simplification of the system and the empowerment of patients. This is in stark contrast to the other party’s insistence on putting Washington in charge of patient care, which has blocked any progress on meeting these goals. We offer a detailed program that will improve the quality, cost, and coverage of health care throughout the nation, and we will turn that plan into reality.”

Still too few Americans know exactly what Republicans would like to do, but fortunately more people are learning. A couple of key points:

  • “To empower families, we must make insurance more affordable and more secure, and give employees the option of owning coverage that is not tied to their job.”
  • “The current tax system discriminates against individuals who do not receive health care from their employers, gives more generous health tax benefits to upper income employees, and fails to provide every American with the ability to purchase an affordable health care plan. Republicans propose to correct inequities in the current tax code that drive up the number of uninsured and to  level the playing field so that individuals who choose a health insurance plan in the individual market face no tax penalty. All Americans should receive the same tax benefit as those who are insured through work, whether through a tax credit or other means.”

Here is the text under the heading “Protect Good Health Care Providers from Frivolous Lawsuits”:

“Every patient must have access to legal remedies for malpractice, but meritless lawsuits drive up insurance rates to outrageous levels and ultimately drive up the number of uninsured. Frivolous lawsuits also drive up the cost of health care as health care providers are forced to practice defensive medicine, such as ordering unnecessary tests. Many leave their practices rather than deal with the current system. This emergency demands medical liability reform.”

Let us highlight just two more headings. First, “Drive Costs Down With Interstate Competition”:

“A state-regulated national market for health insurance means more competition, more choice, and lower costs. Families – as well as fraternal societies, churches and community groups, and small employers – should be able to purchase policies across state lines. The best practices and lowest prices should be available in every state. We call upon state legislators to carefully consider the cost of medical mandates, and we salute those Republican governors who are leading the way in demonstrating ways to provide affordable health care options.”

Second: “Protecting Rights of Conscience”:

“The health care profession can be both a profession and a calling. No health care professional – doctor, nurse, or pharmacist – or organization should ever be required to perform, provide for, or refer for a health care service against their conscience for any reason. This is especially true of the religious organizations which deliver a major portion of America’s health care, a service rooted in the charity of faith communities.”

Reforming Medicare and Medicaid are referenced towards the end, including this note on Medicaid, which “now accounts for 20-25 percent of state budgets and threatens to overwhelm state governments for the indefinite future. We can do better while spending less.”

To learn more about the challenges faced in reforming Medicare, Medicaid, as well as many other reforms that are preferable to those being offered by the Democrats, visit the following websites:

Galen Institute

Heritage Foundation

Heartland Institute

Up next: Education.

©2009 John Francis Biver