Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rep. Brian Baird's got a plan

Calling my Congressional rep, Brian Baird's office this afternoon I was referred to an op-ed he wrote to the Seattle Times that was published today: "Time for Real Reform of Health Care & Taxes".

Snip: "As a starting point, we must assure anyone who has health insurance that they are perfectly free to keep what they have, while those in genuine financial need will still receive assistance. With those assurances, all current federal and state government-funded health programs for people of all ages should be eliminated and replaced with the following:

• All government provided financial support should be based on financial means. Regardless of age, participants should pay as their financial resources allow.

• Basic prepaid health care would provide routine medical, dental, vision and mental-health care with no insurance forms. Catastrophic insurance would then cover high-cost occurrences plus long-term care. Individuals could choose for-profit or not-for-profit plans that are state, regional or national, but coverage would be mandatory. A national commission would assure financial soundness and quality of care for cross state plans.

• Discrimination against pre-existing conditions or genetics would be banned, but incentives would promote positive health and prevention.

• Student aid plus increased compensation would encourage general and family practice and other high-need health-care providers.

• Comprehensive malpractice reforms would provide alternatives to litigation and reduce defensive medicine and abusive lawsuits.

• Service members and veterans could choose existing Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense care or participate in the alternative program, with the government funding their costs as their situation warrants.

• The program would be funded by money from existing federal and state programs that would be replaced; with cost savings from malpractice reforms, paperwork reduction, national risk pools and improved preventive care; and through direct payments and premiums from individuals and employers (but no new taxes would be placed on existing insurance).
Which all sounds pretty damned good to me.  If I read it right, he's essentially advocating the gov't pay for all primary care and insurance companies can pay for catastrophic & long term care.   I like that plan.  A lot.
I'm not so thrilled with the rest of the plan, though - eliminating *all* payroll and income taxes and replacing them with a national sales tax.  I'm assuming he means Federal payroll & income taxes because you couldn't very well get the states to overhaul their entire tax codes as well.  Unfortunately I think his "while we're at it..." thoughts on tax reform will detract from what is otherwise, a good, solid, simple reform plan.

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