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Conservatives encourage competition in healthcare

The solution is to remove all government meddling, open up insurance markets and promote private spending and the profit motive.

September 20, 2009|Richard A. Viguerie | Richard A. Viguerie is chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.

Conservatives have made clear their opposition to President Obama's healthcare reforms. So does that mean they think the system works well as it is? We asked four prominent conservatives to think beyond their objections to the Democrats' ideas and propose ways to make the American healthcare system better.

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The main problem with American healthcare is too much government. Let's reduce government control and let real competition create better services and lower prices.

The shortest explanation of conservatives' approach to improving the best -- albeit still imperfect -- healthcare system in the world is: Do the opposite of what President Obama wants.

I see four key components to the conservative approach.

First, it's time for honesty from Democrats, Republicans and the health profession. People don't know their own healthcare costs when they're covered, therefore they don't shop around for better prices and there's less incentive to keep costs low. Health savings accounts would put sanity back into the system because people would have "skin in the game." When people spend their own money, they spend it more wisely.

Second, government must not directly or indirectly control healthcare. Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated time and again that they succumb to special interests. Keep the government's nose out of patient-doctor relationships and do not create a government database of medical records.

Third, respect constitutional constraints, which means most federal involvement is barred or limited. Use the commerce clause of the Constitution productively, as it was intended, to break down inefficient barriers to interstate commerce. Allow citizens of any state to choose from what's available in all 50 states. Let consumers carry their coverage from job to job and from state to state. Include reasonable tort reform, but only consistent with the Constitution.

Fourth, don't discourage profit. The desire for profit drives better prices, service and products.

Further, any reform should not require individuals to obtain health insurance. Besides being frightful, unprecedented Washington authoritarianism over individuals, mandating captive markets destroys incentives to keep costs lower and consumer service higher.

Obama claims that health insurance is a moral imperative. By law, hospitals can't deny emergency treatment for patients who aren't insured, leaving an unpaid care gap estimated at more than $50 billion annually, according to the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives and independents at the tea parties, town halls and beyond believe it is a moral imperative to stop burdening the next generations with trillion-dollar deficits and to stop government's stealing from the Medicare trust fund, which now has unfunded liabilities of $36.3 trillion, according to the Heritage Foundation.

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