Op-Ed: Victoria Spartz, Congressional Candidate on “Healthcare: Consumer Choice or Socialism?”

Last fall, my op-ed, “Health Care Perspective From a State Senator: Government is Always the Biggest Problem,” showed how healthcare policies, created often as mere avenues to power since WWII, spawned ever-greater government interventions into medical markets and made care increasingly expensive for all, and actually hurt its availability.

Even former Vice President Biden is running away from the so-called Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) with a new slogan, “Bidencare.” Here are a few reasons why:

In just a few years, Obamacare doubled premiums, narrowed access to doctors and hospitals, disincentivized innovative insurance models, and cost taxpayers a quarter of a trillion in cash. That’s over $400,000 in subsidies for each additional insured, and it will cost us another $2 trillion over the next decade in payments to health insurance companies. It’s not just unaffordable, it’s outrageously expensive.

Do you remember President Obama’s infamous false claim he had to apologize for in his 2013 NBC interview: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”? Almost 5 million Americans lost their insurance plans. I know, I was one of them. 

So, what is this “public option,” this “Bidencare”?  Per Joe Biden: “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare.” Does that sound familiar? 

Let’s just stop playing politics and call apples – apples, and oranges – oranges. President Obama’s promise was nothing but a catchy political talking point, as is Joe Biden’s, since it’s just impossible to keep an impossible promise. Bidencare’s “public option”, government-owned insurance company, is just a roadmap to a full government takeover of health care.  Former Senator Majority leader Harry Reid acknowledged in 2009 that Obamacare was “absolutely” a step toward single-payer.  At least, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are somewhat honest: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.” Actually, “government ownership of companies” is the pure definition of socialism as explained by Karl Marx.

So, what is a fully-socialized health care? Simply put, it’s a death to quality and innovation.  

So, what is my alternative? I do not belong to that group of Republicans who believe our health care market was perfect before Obamacare. I personally had plenty of trouble finding affordable health insurance as a small business owner and farmer, worked very demanding jobs while being pregnant and raising two little girls to have insurance, and received a hefty bill for a minor procedure as uninsured.  The ACA just put all our problems with health care on steroids and is crushing the healthcare market, where only large monopolies are now gaining more and more power and wealth. Witness the buying-up of community hospitals and independent practices by huge chains over the past decade or so…

Congress must deliver a policy for innovative, consumer-driven, and affordable medical care with more control by patients and doctors, with better choices and value.

To summarize in 3 key points, Congress should:

1. Protect and improve existing government programs (Medicare and Medicaid). Protect Medicare and reform Medicaid to provide better value through more flexibility, consumer choice, personal cash accounts, better Medicaid fraud auditing, and value-driven, quality-based payment models. 
2. Provide regulatory relief that encourages flexibility, competition, and choice for affordable insurance. Congress should act on insurance options like Health Reimbursement Arrangements to employees, which would allow employees to use tax-free dollars to buy insurance they can keep if they lose or change jobs. It should allow more flexibility and incentives for the states to reform the insurance market and provide innovative insurance models, including better value and outcome-based care for people with chronic and pre-existing conditions while guaranteeing their coverage, association health plans, short-term policies, guaranteed renewable policies, direct primary care, and health care sharing ministry options. Congress should also set up a legal framework for selling insurance across state lines. 
3. Require more transparency, competition, and patient choice for better value in medical care. Consumers deserve and need price transparency to shop for value and to be protected from surprise medical bills. Congress needs to reform the FDA to provide more competition in the pharmaceutical market, and require more transparency for charitable care deductions of non-profit hospitals and intermediaries like prescription benefit managers. It also needs to reduce barriers to innovation and competition, like prohibition of the telehealth, unreasonable non-competes, gag clauses, burdensome licensing laws, restrictions on physician-owned hospitals, certificate-of-need regulations, etc.  

The choice this November is between more government control and socialism or more innovation and competition. You decide! And, if you like your Obamacare plan, you can keep your plan. Although, I know that we can do better!

Victoria Spartz
Indiana State Senator
IN-05 Candidate for Congress