Friday, January 16, 2009

Goldwater Institute: Solving Arizona's Health Care Crisis

Goldwater Institute report offers a dozen ideas to lower costs and empower patients

Phoenix--A new Goldwater Institute policy report evaluates the symptoms, makes a diagnosis, and prescribes a treatment plan for Arizona's ailing health care system.

"The bad news is that too many families are struggling to afford health care," says Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., chief economist with the Goldwater Institute and author of the new report Removing the Middleman: What States Can Do to Make Health Care More Responsive to Patients. "The good news is that Arizona can do a great deal to bring health care costs down."

Removing the Middleman prescribes a treatment plan to lower costs, including:

· Loosening regulations on charitable health care. Eleven states have exempted charitable health care organizations from onerous insurance regulations, the remaining 39 should quickly follow suit.
· Establishing HSAs for state employees. Moving state employees to high deductible health insurance plans would save money and provide greater choices to state employees.

· Allow for more providers. States should unilaterally open their health insurance markets to out-of-state competition, reduce insurance mandates, and experiment with conditional deregulation programs like Florida's.
· Restructuring Medicaid to focus on the neediest. This includes imposing copayments, limiting eligibility, and moving Medicaid recipients to HSAs.

· Encouraging private companies to broker health services. Regulatory barriers facing companies that act as negotiators to lower hospital bills should be removed.

· Freeing up the health care market. Policymakers should rescind the moratorium on specialty hospitals, encourage price transparency and medical bills to be in plain language, and allow pharmacists to prescribe some drugs.

Removing the Middleman concludes that encouraging competition among health care providers, giving consumers a greater role in financing their own health care, reducing regulatory barriers to emerging industries within health care, and allowing interstate competition for health insurance will help bring health care costs down. Dr. Schlomach points to Singapore's health care system as a potential model to emulate. Residents of Singapore have generally better health outcomes than Americans and only 3.7 percent of its GDP is spent on health care.

Read Removing the Middleman here or call (602) 462-5000 to have a copy mailed to you.

The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

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