Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Foxx On American Healthcare

The following good article is from an email from Congresswoman Foxx.
American Healthcare: More choices, personal ownership, fairnessWithout Big Government Interference
By Congresswoman Virginia Foxx

While the high price of gasoline is the major issue on the minds of most Americans, another prevalent topic of discussion is healthcare. Americans have traditionally enjoyed the best, most accessible, patient-centered health care in the world and I am fighting to see that tradition continue.

Americans have a right to expect access to affordable, high quality, patient centered health care. That does not have to mean a one-size-fits-all plan run by clipboard-wielding Washington bureaucrats or a program for seniors which denies them choice of physicians.

Yet the most prosperous country in the world finds itself in a situation where the cost of health care increases each year at more than twice the rate of inflation. Understandably, many Americans are frustrated with the spiraling cost of healthcare and experience a great deal of insecurity about paying medical bills. The two major factors behind these risings costs are government-run programs and employer provided insurance.

A reform agenda with health care tax credits for families and individuals where anyone can easily carry coverage for years or from job to job would be a great starting point. And we should also work to ensure that low-income children are insured.

Every year the United States shells out $2.1 trillion for health care. This amount is larger than the entire economies of all but six countries in the world. Thanks to government intervention in the health care marketplace, government spending today accounts for about half of all healthcare spending and is a major contributor to the rising cost of healthcare. And where the government spends the money it typically dictates conditions and options for healthcare—which don’t always make sense for individuals.

One potential solution is to level the health insurance playing field and reduce the government’s intrusion into healthcare. Thanks to out-dated, World War II era tax laws the health insurance market is skewed almost entirely towards large company-sponsored plans.
The federal government gives large companies generous tax write offs for providing health insurance to their employees. But individuals without employer provided health insurance are stuck footing the whole bill—with not a tax break in sight. If your workplace doesn’t offer a health plan you’re often out of luck. I’ve co-sponsored the Health Care Freedom of Choice Act (HR 636) to address this health insurance inequity head on.

The Health Care Freedom of Choice Act makes individual medical expenses fully tax-deductible—everything from medical and dental care to long-term care and health insurance premiums. By making this straightforward fix to the tax code we can help millions of Americans take control of their healthcare and make their own choices about what coverage and which doctors make sense for them.

People who choose to purchase their own health insurance would be able to get a tax deduction, just like workplace-based plans. This would help to end the tax code discrimination towards health plans that are tied to jobs. We live in an economy where more and more people regularly switch jobs. It makes sense to structure our tax code in a way that reduces the average American’s uncertainly about health insurance in an increasingly dynamic job market.

Changing the way the IRS views your health care spending is just one of many ways we can reform our nation’s health system. Health Savings Accounts hold the potential to generate billions in individual savings and foster a real sense of ownership and control over health care decisions. Allowing the creation of Association Health Plans would give small businesses more options for providing healthcare coverage to their employees.

Health care dollars should be spent on patients in the hospital – not on lawyers in the courtroom. Reforming the health care liability system by creating reasonable guidelines, not caps, on punitive damages would drive down costs for doctors and hospitals and make healthcare more affordable for everyone. Today America enjoys the most advanced healthcare in the world. We can do more to ensure everyone has access to this world class healthcare. There are many good ideas for improving our nation’s healthcare system. I argue that the solution does not lie in a top-down system engineered by Washington. Instead, the best solutions involve giving average Americans affordable choices as well as ownership and control over their healthcare.

Editor’s Note: Virginia Foxx a United States Representative from North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District, is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. You may contact her office toll free at 1-866-677-8968 or e-mail her from her website,

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