By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Seeking to prove the GOP is more than the party of "No," South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint has come up with a healthcare reform plan that, he says, "Insures more Americans in half the time at no cost," when compared to the plan being pushed by the Democratic majority.
According to an estimate by the conservative Heritage Foundation, DeMint's bill will reduce the number of uninsured in America by 22.4 million people in just five years. And he addresses the cost by terminating the Troubled Asset Relief Program—also known as Wall Street Bailout No. 1—and requiring companies that took federal funds repay them within the same five years.
"Under the Health Care Freedom Plan, Americans would be able to keep the care they have now," DeMint said, contrasting his approach with the "public option" idea being pushed by the White House that some critics say would ultimately destroy the private insurance market. Anyone without insurance or who dislikes their current plan, DeMint says, could, under his plan, "access a voucher to purchase health insurance anywhere in the country. This will create a true, competitive market for health care that will lower costs and increase quality."
DeMint's Health Care Freedom Plan, the senator's office says:
- Does not put additional taxes on employer-based healthcare benefits.
- Provides those without employer-based coverage with vouchers of $2000 for individuals and $5000 for families to purchase health insurance. (According to eHealthInsurance, the average private policy sold in the individual market in 2007 was $1,896 for an individual and $4,392 for a family).
- Allows Americans with Health Savings Accounts to use their HSA funds to pay for insurance premiums.
- Allows individuals to purchase health insurance plans in any state.
- Provides block grants to states to develop innovative models that ensure affordable health insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.
- Reduces predatory and frivolous malpractice lawsuits against physicians and hospitals.
- Assures that every health care consumer has access to price information prior to treatment so they can make informed decisions about their care.
- Repeals financial bailouts to ensure that the plan does not add to the deficit.
"All Americans should have access to health insurance that they can afford, own, and keep - and that the government can never take over or take away," DeMint said in a release announcing his effort. "No American should be forced into a government-run system that limits their choices and rations their care. Democrats' answer to every crisis is more and more government, but there is a better way that puts patients first, not bureaucrats. By giving all Americans choice and access to the same tax benefits we give to people through their employers, we can cover more uninsured Americans than the Democrat plan, in half the time, and at no additional cost to taxpayers."