Heritage Foundation offers solutions on healthcare, other topics

The conservative Heritage Foundation on Tuesday unveiled a 58-page compilation of policy proposals addressing 23 issues.

The "Solutions for America" chapter on healthcare recommends several strategies to get runaway healthcare costs under control, starting with repealing Democrats' new healthcare reform law.

These include:

  • Promoting personal control through tax equity: Heritage wants to eliminate (or at least cap) the tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance and replace it with a system of universal tax credits for taxpayers. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah) during the healthcare reform debate endorsed a similar approach but it went nowhere because it would upend a system that's been in place since World War II.

Heritage also recommends "redirecting" the Medicaid and CHIP programs "to help low-income individuals and families purchase private health insurance."

  • Fixing current government health programs: Heritage wants to transform Medicare into a defined-contribution system "in which the government provides a contribution for benefits and seniors are able to apply their contribution to the health plan that suits them best."
  • Promoting federal–state partnerships: States should take the lead in healthcare reform, Heritage argues, by "identifying the key health care challenges facing their citizens, structuring a consumer-based marketplace for health insurance, and expanding affordable health care options for their citizens, including setting up pooling arrangements to protect persons with pre-existing conditions while not unduly burdening taxpayers." And the federal government "should promote interstate commerce in health insurance, extend certain protections for those who maintain continuous coverage and provide states with technical assistance and relief from federal rules that inhibit innovation."
  • Providing portability: Americans should own their health plan and be able to carry it with them from job to job. Portability was a central goal of healthcare reform early in the debate but disappeared as Democrats proposed a system of state exchanges where health plans will have to cover everyone starting in 2014.