Shadegg/Hoekstra: Some Better Ways to Repair Health Care

Some better ways to repair health care
by John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra

When was the last time you asked your doctor how much it would cost for a necessary test or procedure? In all likelihood, you can’t remember because your health plan “paid for it.” In fact, you paid. We all pay for health care.

We can trace most of the problems in the current system to the lack of control individuals have over their care. If there’s one lesson we’ve taken away from the thousands of citizens at town-hall meetings, it’s that one massive bill isn’t the solution. Americans desire greater control over their care and want reform in digestible pieces.

Here’s how Congress should reform health care.

Costs and control. Roughly 60 percent of all health care in America is employer-provided. This third-party payment structure has divorced the consumer from the real cost of services. It encourages excess spending, overutilization, runaway lawsuits, defensive medicine, and huge malpractice premiums.
President Obama and congressional Democrats say a new federal health-care bureaucracy and a government-run plan are the answer. They are wrong.

Government has caused our health-care woes. Our tax code incentivizes employer-provided health care, rewards insurers by insulating them from competition and accountability, and punishes people without employer-provided care.

Every night there are TV commercials from Geico, Progressive, and others offering us better auto insurance at lower costs. But there are virtually no commercials for health insurance. This is because the government protects health-insurance companies from real competition. Group health insurers don’t have to market to consumers. They only have to satisfy employers. Also, people living in one state are currently permitted to purchase individual insurance only in that state. Allowing competition across state lines would drive down cost tremendously.

The solution is patient choice. What appears to be a free market in health care today is not. The health-care market is a stacked deck favoring insurance companies rather than patients.

We must stop taxing Americans who choose their own plan. Individuals should be able to select their own coverage without any tax penalty.

Pre-existing conditions. Americans agree that no one should go bankrupt because of a chronic disease or a pre-existing condition like multiple sclerosis or breast cancer.

In 2006, Congress passed Congressman Shadegg’s legislation encouraging states to create high-risk pools where those with pre-existing conditions could receive coverage at roughly the same rates as healthy Americans. State-based high-risk pools spread the cost of care for those with chronic diseases among all insurers in the market. The additional cost is subsidized by the government.

Unfortunately, some states, including Arizona, have not created a high-risk pool, and some pools need to be restructured to ensure timely access to care. Republicans have proposed fixing this problem by expanding and strengthening this safety net, and by creating reinsurance or risk-adjustment pools so Americans with chronic conditions can get the care they need at an affordable cost.

Uninsured Americans. Most Americans recognize the quality of health care in the U.S. is excellent. In 2008, some 400,000 foreigners traveled to America for health-care treatments. Our five-year survival rates for all cancers significantly beat those in Canada, Europe and England. The problem is that some in America cannot access this care.

The political disagreement is not who to cover, but how to cover everyone. The president and congressional Democrats want to create a government-run plan, outlaw the coverage Americans enjoy today, and let bureaucrats control all health plans. Their bill, H.R. 3200, is more than a thousand pages of new mandates, penalties, regulations and taxes. It is a takeover of our health-care system by Washington politicians.
All Americans deserve the ability to select coverage that meets their needs. Republicans in Congress want to empower Americans to make their own choices by providing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to purchase the plan of your choice. Those who cannot afford coverage would be able to select and purchase a plan using a health-care voucher.

If we give citizens the ability to control their own care, cover pre-existing conditions, and provide resources to the uninsured, we will have improved health care in America. No bureaucrats. No czars. No mandates. No massive new spending. Just choice and coverage.

John Shadegg, a Republican, represents Arizona’s 3rd District. Pete Hoekstra is a Republican congressman from Michigan.


  1. Ah, gee, you’re ruining the image from the Dems and their sycophants in the media that Republicans are just the party of “no.” You mean to tell me that there is an alternative to Obamacare?

  2. At an ER one time I wanted to pay on the spot (as it was sure to be less than our deductible) and was told I would pay less (they did not know how much less) if I ran it through our insurance company bureaucracy. As for the ER physician, I couldn’t even find out how much we owed even though it was after the fact. Try asking most health care providers how much a procedure costs. You’re likely to get a blank stare.

    Has anyone out there tried to get three competitive quotes for an elective procedure? I’ve thought about trying and would like to know if anyone has actually tried and what responses they got?

  3. They look like twins…except Shadegg has hair.

Leave a Reply