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July 5, 2012
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McConnell argues for market competition over legislation to lower health insurance costs

Says U.S. government already has problems managing Medicare and Medicaid programs

By Josh Shepherd
The Lane Report

SOMERSET, Ky. (July 5, 2012) – In remarks critical of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act upheld last week in a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. Mitch McConnell suggested that the best way to drive down health insurance costs is through stimulation of market competition on a national scale.

McConnell spoke at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset on Tuesday morning, July 3.

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The contrast between a security society and an opportunity society formed the basis for McConnell’s subsequent arguments against the federal healthcare law enacted in 2009 and what the government should have done instead.

“We can have a country that is consumed with security, trying to protect everybody from every conceivable adverse outcome in their lives. Or we can have a country that is compassionate to those least able to compete. In the healthcare field we have that for the elderly in the form of Medicare and for low-income workers through Medicaid. But for most of us, we have a country of opportunity,” he said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The visit by U.S. Senate Minority Leader McConnell, a Republican from Louisville who has been in the Senate for 27 years, launched a series of addresses to carry the forward the GOP reaction in the wake of the court’s decision to uphold a section of the controversial healthcare law requiring every individual to buy health insurance. The senator argued this measure would not succeed in lowering healthcare costs. According to McConnell, it will drive the United States further toward a European-style healthcare system.

“We can have a country that is consumed with security, trying to protect everybody from every conceivable adverse outcome in their lives. Or we can have a country that is compassionate to those least able to compete. In the healthcare field we have that for the elderly in the form of Medicare and for low-income workers through Medicaid. But for most of us, we have a country of opportunity.” Sen. Mitch McConnell

“One of the biggest drivers of our national debt is healthcare … Since this country has its hands full with the Medicare/Medicaid system it already has, we should not assume we could take over everyone else’s healthcare and manage to do it cheaper. I don’t believe that,” McConnell said.

He called attention to the European government debt crisis and said the U.S. government already has problems managing the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and said taking on a bigger role in the management of everyone’s healthcare is simply not in the country’s best interests

A government controlled healthcare system would be a “slide toward mediocrity,” McConnell said, and asked conference attendees what kind of country they wanted?

The senator presented a fundamental outline of basic strategies, with his primary argument being a need to change leadership through the 2012 elections. In terms of alternative programs, though, McConnell suggested more modest change than those in the federal healthcare reform law would have had a greater affect.

“Our friends on the other side took a meat axe to the whole American healthcare system when they should have used a scalpel,” je saod/

In terms of what could be done to improve the American healthcare system instead of the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act, Sen. McConnell argued the government needs to foster a national program that pits health insurance companies against one another for the consumer’s dollar.

He cited as an example of the success of that strategy the prescription drug benefit in Medicare, Part D. That legislation, he argued, created a competitive model allowing traditional market forces to drive pharmaceutical companies.

“It was one of the only federal programs that managed to come under budget,” according to McConnell. “Rather than fearing competition, we need to embrace it.”

He was also critical that the extensive healthcare law carried no provision for medical malpractice protections. “The Congressional Budget Office has said that medical malpractice could save billions in healthcare costs.”

McConnell concluded by urging GOP supporters to use the elections as their statement against “Obamacare” and assured people that, if elected, the GOP presidential nominee would sign a repeal of the healthcare act.

Josh Shepherd is a contributing writer to The Lane Report. Email to editorial@lanereport.com.

 

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