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Ron Paul answers questions from AHCJ members

Election 2008

See AHCJ's Election 2008 resource, with news and links to the candidates' statements about health care issues.

1) Should there be universal insurance coverage in this country?

Not if universal health care means health care "guaranteed" and controlled by the government. Such a health care system would inevitably result in rationing, long waiting periods, lack of choice, poor quality, and frustration. If government-run health care works so well, how come many Canadians are coming to the U.S. to obtain care? Socialized medicine will not magically work here.

Instead of further increasing the government's control, I will work to correct the mistake the government made when it removed control over the health care dollar from individuals and gave it to third-parities, such as insurance companies and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). I will do this by giving individuals large health care tax cuts and credits and expanding access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

2) If you believe in universal coverage, how would you achieve it (i.e., employer mandate, individual mandate, single payer)?

Please see above answer.

3) Should private insurance companies be allowed to choose who they want to insure, taking into account a person's age and health status?

Federal intervention in the private insurance market is the reason health insurers have so much power over health care decisions today. However, the solution lies not in regulations that would expand government control over the insurance industry. Such regulations will inevitably further drive up the costs of health care, pricing some Americans out of the health care market. Instead, those laws that give insurance companies power they would not have in a free market should be repealed, and private insurance companies should be allowed to set their own policies for who they would or would not insure.

4) If you or someone else in your family has ever been uninsured, what was that experience like?

I have five kids and eighteen grandchildren, and there have been periods where several members of my family have had lapses in health insurance. The sky-rocketing costs of health care make being uninsured in America a scary proposition. As a doctor, I have seen the problems of the uninsured dramatically worsen over the years. I began practicing medicine before the government got involved and have seen first hand how federal interference pushes up prices, drives down quality, and makes insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans. We need to move away from big government and towards health care freedom, ownership, and portability so that more Americans can afford to purchase insurance.

Presidential candidate Ron Paul5) Explain why your approach for reducing the nation's health care costs would succeed?

A true free-market in health care was tried before in this country, and resulted in a health care system that was the envy of the world.

Health care declined dramatically after the federal government got involved. Taking the federal government out of the system would reduce costs, fraud, and corruption. Competition in a true free market would drive the costs of health care down.

6) How would you put Medicare on a solid financial footing for the rest of the century?

While working to transition to a free market system, I would cut unnecessary spending and dramatically change our foreign policy, saving us billions of dollars. I would use this money to secure Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for those dependent on the system, while allowing younger generations to opt out.

7) Should the government allow those 55 and older to buy into the Medicare system at their own cost?

No, this would expand government control over health care and force more health care providers under the control of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

8) Will pay-for-performance plans, in which providers are paid based on their quality scores, further stratify the disparity between rich and poor patients?

I do not know. What I do know is that a government-mandated "pay-for-performance system" will further government regulation of the medical profession and may even lead to more unnecessary litigation.

9) What should the U.S. national policy be for paying for long-term care?

Individuals should be given generous tax credits and deductions to save for their own long-term care. Putting the consumer in charge would create a competitive marketplace whereindividuals would be able to afford the care they need, as they look among numerous competitors for the plan that fits them best.

10) What steps should the federal government take to reduce obesity and diabetes, which are looming as the greatest threats to public health?

The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to force people to diet and exercise. Giving Americans greater control of their health care dollars via tax credits and tax deductions will give Americans greater incentives and the ability to take more responsibility for their own health care. Americans should be able to use money from their HSAs for preventive health care such as smoking cessation products and weight loss programs. Health care tax credits should also be available for preventive measures. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration should stop censoring truthful information about how individuals can improve their health via dietary supplements.

11) What further steps need to be taken to protect U.S. citizens in the face of a global pandemic?

The FDA needs reform to make sure potential cures for pandemics make it to the market more quickly. Government also needs to give private property owners the authority and responsibility to take the steps they feel is necessary to protect themselves. Allowing individuals to find the best ways to protect against a pandemic will result in more creative ways to ensure public health than continuing reliance on a one-size-fits all, bureaucratic approach.

12) What will you do to ensure that federal agencies are performing research based on scientific models and reporting information objectively on controversial health issues of the day?

Government-funded research will inevitably be politicized, with funding decisions based on who has the most powerful lobby, instead of based on the greatest need. This is why we need to increase the role of the private sector. I will encourage private-sector research by supporting tax credits for private medical research.

13) How would you change the financial incentives in health care to reward improvements in the actual health of patients, rather than linking reimbursements to the number of procedures performed?

Again, the best way to achieve this goal is not through relying on government bureaucrats, but through giving health care consumers greater control over our health care system via tax credits, tax deductions, and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

14) How can the government narrow health care disparities among ethnic and economic groups and people living in different regions?

The government has neither the constitutional authority nor the competence to redistribute health care resources along regional or ethnic lines. Any attempt to do so will weaken health care for all.

15) Who should bear the cost of hospital-acquired infections and medical errors?

In a true free market system, the hospital and its staff would be held directly liable in a court of law to pay for damages, and it would have proper insurance coverage for such incidents. This would encourage better care, as the hospital staff would be aware of the risks of any poor medical care.