Monday, December 10, 2007

Mike Huckabee's Health Care Plan

Mike Huckabee is now among the front runners for the Republican nomination. So, what is his health care plan?

First, he doesn't have a plan so much as a set of principles that would have to be detailed. On the surface he seems to want a lot of it both ways--no more government but lots of new program ideas. For example, he calls for tax credits to help low-income people purchase health insurance but says universal health care can't be "funded through ever higher taxes." Giving low income people meaningful assistance to buy health insurance is what makes the Democrats' plans so costly.

Much of what he talks about in these principles is similar to the other leading Republican candidates. Like other Republicans, he would begin to shift the health insurance system away from the employer and toward a consumer-driven model putting a more vibrant health care market at the center of his strategy.

Like other Republicans, he does not call for individual or employer mandates and the more than $100 billion of annual spending that Democrats call for, in great part, to implement them.

Like all candidates, Republican and Democratic, he calls for more focus on prevention and health information technology to improve the cost and quality of the system.

Here are his key points in his own words:
  • "The health care system in this country is irrevocably broken, in part because it is only a "health care" system, not a "health" system.
  • "We don't need universal health care mandated by federal edict or funded through ever-higher taxes. We do need to get serious about preventive health care instead of chasing more and more dollars to treat chronic disease, which currently gobbles up 80% of our health care costs, and yet is often avoidable.
  • "I advocate policies that will encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs and improve the free market for health care services.
  • "We can make health care more affordable by reforming medical liability; adopting electronic record keeping; making health insurance more portable from one job to another; expanding health savings accounts to everyone, not just those with high deductibles; and making health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions. We don't need all the government controls that would inevitably come with universal health care.
  • "I also value the states' role as laboratories for new market-based approaches, and I will encourage those efforts. As President I will work with the private sector, Congress, health care providers, and other concerned parties to lead a complete overhaul of our health care system, not more of the same, paid for by Uncle Sam at the expense of hard-working families.
  • "Our employer-based system has outlived its usefulness, but the answer is a consumer-based system, not socialized medicine."
You can access Huckabee's health care policy web page here.

Earlier post: When it Comes To Health Care Policy It Really Doesn't Matter Which Democrat Or Which Republican Wins Their Nomination

You can access my review of all of the candidates' plans in the column to right.
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