Massachusetts’s experience should caution Congress against focusing primarily on access. While the Massachusetts plan has reduced the number of uninsured people, costs have been dramatically higher than expected. The result? Increased taxes and fees. The Boston Globe has reported on a current short-term funding gap and the need to obtain a new federal bailout.
Imagine the scope of tax increases, or additional deficit spending, if that approach is utilized for the entire country.
Congress has an opportunity to take a genuinely bipartisan approach to health-care reform, which is unquestionably needed. Instead of tweaking the Democrats’ plan to put Washington bureaucrats in charge of health care, I recommend a do-over. There are many common-sense elements that could form the basis for bipartisan health-care reform, including: medical malpractice reform, prohibiting coverage denials based on preexisting conditions, guaranteeing portability, electronic prescriptions and medical records, streamlining billing codes and practices, price and quality transparency, pay-for-performance measures, one-stop primary-care “medical homes,” chronic disease management initiatives, tax equity for health insurance purchases, increased incentives for health savings accounts, creating the ability to purchase insurance or form risk pools across state lines, and much more.