Help us Obi Wan Gingrich, you're our only hope!

Help us Obi Wan Gingrich, you're our only hope!

Democrats love to pull out the old card that the GOP just wants to oppose them and that we have nothing to offer in the debate for health-care reform. However, this is emphatically not true and I’d like to introduce you to Newt Gingrich’s health-care reform plan. Gingrich is one of the founders of the Center for Health Transformation, where you can learn more about what they propose to do to fix our health care system. There are a few key points that I think are worth discussing. Below the fold you will see Gingrich’s 6 Keys to Reforming Health-care.

1. Stop Paying the Crooks. First, we must dramatically reduce healthcare fraud within our current healthcare system. Outright fraud — criminal activity — accounts for as much as 10 percent of all healthcare spending. That is more than $200 billion every year. Medicare alone could account for as much as $40 billion a year. (Read about our latest CHT Press book, Stop Paying the Crooks, edited by Jim Frogue.)
2. Move from a Paper-based to an Electronic Health System. As it stands now, it is simply impossible to keep up with fraud in a paper-based system. An electronic system would free tens of billions of dollars to be spent on investing on the kind of modern system that will transform healthcare. In addition, it would dramatically increase our ability to eliminate costly medical errors and to accelerate the adoption of new solutions and breakthroughs.
3. Tax Reform. The savings realized through very deliberately and very systematically eliminating fraud could be used to provide tax incentives and vouchers that would help cover those Americans who currently can’t afford coverage. In addition, we need to expand tax incentives for insurance provided by small employers and the self-employed. Finally, elimination of capital gains taxes for investments in health-solution companies can greatly impact the creation advancement of new solutions that create better health at lower cost.
4. Create a Health-Based Health System. In essence, we must create a system that focuses on improving individual health. The best way to accomplish this is to find out what solutions are actually working today that save lives and save money and then design public policy to encourage their widespread adoption. For example, according to the Dartmouth Health Atlas, if the 6,000 hospitals in the country provided the same standard of care of the Intermountain or Mayo health clinics, Medicare alone would save 30 percent of total spending every year. We need to make best practices the minimum practice. We need the federal government and other healthcare stakeholders to consistently migrate to best practices that ensure quality, safety and better outcomes.
5. Reform Our Health Justice System. Currently, the U.S. civil justice system is the most expensive in the world — about double the average cost in virtually every other industrialized nation. But for all of the money spent, our civil justice system neither effectively compensates persons injured from medical negligence nor encourages the elimination of medical errors. Because physicians fear malpractice suits, defensive medicine (redundant, wasteful treatment designed to avoid lawsuits, not treat the patient) has become pervasive. CHT is developing a number of bold health-justice reforms including a “safe harbor” for physicians who followed clinical best practices in the treatment of a patient.
6. Invest in Scientific Research and Breakthroughs. We must accelerate and focus national efforts, re-engineer care delivery, and ultimately prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes which are financially crippling our healthcare system.

I’m not sure if I agree with all of Newt’s proposals and ideas (read some of the rest of the website, there is some pretty good stuff there.) However, I think there are some things to take away here that Republicans need to do to offer a comprehensive opposition plan. First, I like concentrating on the private sector. Offering tax incentives and free-market approaches to encourage more efficiency and more coverage seems ideal to me. I especially like the idea of removing all capital gains tax for health-solution companies.

Newt also mentions the Health Justice System. He is right in that large tort awards leads to defensive and more expensive medicine. Certainly we want to protect consumers from negligence, but there needs to be some degree of tort reform to cap costs and cap mal-practice insurance. If the government wants to get into the insurance business, why don’t they just offer cheap, low-cost malpractice insurance to doctors, that would save billions each year. Tort reform is probably a non-start for most Democrats because the trial lawyer bar is one of the biggest Democrat voting blocs and donors out there. I actually knew a tort lawyer who was fired from his job because he once suggested on a local talk show that tort reform should be looked at.

What other suggestion would you suggest from a conservative view point? I think all of us agree that there are problems in the system, what are they and how can we fix them?

Here is video of Gingrich talking about his health reform plan: