Democrat Senator Pays Lip Service to Choice, Competition in Health Care

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) At a Senate Finance Committee hearing today about health care costs and coverage, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) outlined the same principles conservatives have been saying would save health care.

Wyden photo

Ron Wyden/Photo by sam_churchill (CC)

“Choice and competition are essential to bringing down health costs. With that in mind, this committee should prioritize moving the needle on increasing choice and competition in the marketplace.”

He said he hopes to work in a bipartisan way to achieve these goals.

Meanwhile Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed both sides on the health care debate have lost sight of what’s best for the United States.


“The divisiveness that surrounds the healthcare debate is unfortunate in my mind because
it has far too often allowed politics and partisanship to cloud our judgment,” Hatch said. “This is true for those on both sides of the aisle.”

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Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, called for a free-market solution to provide universal coverage. He branded his solution as one that moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, and conservatives could all get on board with, since it would expand coverage to the most vulnerable in society.

He said universal health care coverage can come from expanded liberty in choosing plans and decreased federal regulation.

“The high cost of American health care is a great burden on every American, not merely those who are uninsured, but also those who are insured and weighed down by rising premiums,” Roy said. “In addition, growth in our federal deficit and debt is driven primarily by growth in public spending on health care. The poor, the elderly, and the vulnerable have the most to lose, if we cannot bring this growth back in line with the rest of the economy.”

Roy presented his plan to restore competition in American health care, diminish the government’s role in providing insurance, and achieve universal coverage.

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Edmund Haislmaier, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said regulations have made catastrophic insurance so unaffordable that healthy people can no longer participate in health care markets. The Affordable Care Act attempted to subsidize the care of sick and elderly individuals by driving up costs for the young and healthy. Haislmaier said the government failed to acknowledge that young, healthy people would simply pay the penalty.

“The danger now is that, if the ACA’s most costly insurance regulations remain in place, the law will effectively force more of those middle-income individuals to drop their coverage,” he said. “That would mean that the ACA was actually causing some of the insured to become uninsured.”

Andrew Slavitt, former acting administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said the ACA has been successful in lowering premiums for the most vulnerable in society, but he also acknowledged the need for reform in the way the United States administers health care.

“We must commit to moving to a system where we pay for quality outcomes and
reward the smart use of resources. This means paying for care in bundles so physicians and other clinicians work as a team to achieve a better outcome,” he said.