Coburn says Senate needs Mourdock to overhaul heath care law
Bloomington Herald Times
11 Sep 12
INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn — a physician and Oklahoma Republican — joined Richard Mourdock at an Indianapolis hospital Monday where he said the federal health care law must undergo significant changes so it can bring more effective care to Americans.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a physician and Oklahoma Republican, said Monday that the Senate needs Richard Mourdock, to help repeal the federal Affordable Care Act and replace it with more market-driven solutions. Coburn endorsed Mourdock at a press conference at Indiana Orthopedic Hospital in Indianapolis where several doctors joined the press conference. Photo by Lesley Weidenbener, TheStatehouseFile.com.
Coburn said Mourdock’s election to the Senate — where Republicans are trying to wrest control away from Democrats — is key to that effort.
“This seat in terms of us achieving a majority in the Senate is critical,” Coburn said. “I’m fully supportive of Richard’s campaign and what it stands for in contrast” to his opponent.
Mourdock is running for the Senate seat against Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, who voted for the federal Affordable Care Act. Donnelly said recently — when he voted against repealing the health care law — that it “includes good provisions that are already helping Hoosiers.”
But Donnelly’s campaign spokeswoman, Elizabeth Shappell, said the Democrat “thinks the health care law isn’t perfect and is ready to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve the law and protect Medicare.”
“Joe voted to eliminate a small business tax reporting requirement and supports repealing the medical device tax,” she said. “Meanwhile, Richard Mourdock has a ‘my way or the highway’ approach that questions the constitutionality of Medicare and Social Security, rather than work with both parties to improve health care and create jobs in our country.”
Mourdock has pledged to vote to repeal the health care law, although he also said Monday he wold work with any Democrat who seeks to make “government more efficient.”
Mourdock said the federal law’s medical device tax will drive industry out of Indiana to foreign countries and that the health care law will destroy the competition that makes health care more efficient.
Mourdock and Coburn talked to reporters outside the Indiana Orthopedic Hospital on the northwest side of Indianapolis. It’s a health center owned by doctors, which Mourdock said would be “illegal” under the federal law. Actually, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make physician-owned hospitals illegal, but it does generally prohibit Medicaid and Medicare payments to those licensed after Dec. 31, 2010.
“That’s a bad idea,” Mourdock said.
Coburn has crafted an alternative to the health care law called The Patients’ Choice Act, which is designed to put every American in a health care plan and provide subsidies to those with lower incomes.
Mourdock said Monday he has not fully endorsed the Coburn plan, in part because he has not read all its details. But Mourdock said he likes the approach.
The plan would require states to create health care exchanges — which are insurance marketplaces like those required by the current law — and prohibit insurance companies from turning customers down based on age or health.
Coburn said the goal is in part to remove the stigma associated with Medicaid, which many health care providers won’t accept. And he said the plan is meant to take a market-based approach to improving health care.
It’s also designed to drive down costs, which he said the Affordable Care Act won’t do.
“What we have to do is have transparency in health care, have true consumer competition and we have to address the personal reasonability associated with health care,” Coburn said. “If we do those things, what we’re going to do is get better outcomes, lower prices and have the patient-physician relationship restored.”
Although Mourdock couldn’t talk about the specifics of Coburn’s plan, he did say Monday that he supports a proposal to allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and wants to make health care expenses 100 percent tax deductible. He also said he supports the federal law’s requirement that insurance companies cover people with preexisting conditions and that giving companies the ability to combine their policies and share risks would help cover the extra costs.
But Mourdock said he doesn’t support the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that companies cover young adults on through their parents’ policies. Mourdock said he’s pleased that the discussion about health care issues led the companies to do that voluntarily — even when the law’s constitutionality was questioned — but he disagrees with requiring the companies to do so.
“What we need is a health care system that is a patient-centered, market-driven health care approach, not simply an approach where a government gets between the doctor and patient. And that’s what Obamacare is all about,” Mourdock said. “Ultimately Obamacare was designed not to be a system that would succeed but to be a system that would fail, that would bring even more and more government intervention.”