From concerned American citizens in packed town halls and commentators on news programs, we are hearing that many Americans don't like much of what the majority in Congress are proposing in their push to remake the state of health care in America. My concerns about many of the elements of the health care reform supported by the White House and majority congressional leadership are well-known.
Yet just because I oppose legislation like H.R. 3200 does not mean that I don't recognize the need to rework certain elements of the health care equation in America. While the health care industry in the U.S. is relatively robust, it is not without flaws. And there is a segment of the American population, either because of their income level or their medical condition, that needs responsible and well-regulated government assistance.
How should health care be reformed? The answer is not in more government involvement in health care; nor is the answer simply denying there is a problem. Here are some of my ideas to an issue that needs to be addressed:
(taken from audio) I think everybody agrees we need to have health care reform. There have been numerous proposals put forward by various Republicans in the Congress that would address things like catastrophic health insurance, that would address things like being denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition, that would increase portability of insurance, that would increase competition among insurance companies by allowing nationwide competition, that would do tort reform. If we had tort reform, just tort reform, getting the stinking, rotten lawyers out of the business of ambulance chasing, we would eliminate about $50 billion of medical costs every year that doctors have to pay for malpractice insurance which is then passed on to you in the form of bills.
Now, I think that in a country as rich as this one, that we do need to guarantee that everyone has access to a certain basic level of health care. And we can do that if we made the basic reforms necessary to do so. We need to fundamentally rewrite our health care situation in this country. But the answer is not more government health care. The answer is to provide alternatives and incentives for most people to be in health care that they provide for themselves, and then the government can focus like a laser on those who aren't able to provide it for themselves and you give them a basic level of health care. If I could use the car analogy, everybody should have a Chevrolet. Those who can afford it can get Cadillacs or even Mercedes.
It is important to convey your concerns to your elected officials. Yet it is just as important to provide your ideas about how health care can be fixed without further bankrupting our nation's future.
Dr. Richard Land is president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith.