MN REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE PLAN:

Good ideas and troubling proposals

(St. Paul, Minnesota) - There are favorable and flawed ideas in the Health Care Cost Containment Act of 2004, according to the St. Paul-based Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC). An overview of the proposal's 36 ideas was released last Thursday by the Minnesota House Republicans.

"While Republicans have listed many good ideas in their ambitious plan for cutting health care costs, we are troubled by a few of their proposals," says Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

GOOD IDEAS INCLUDE:

  • offer a mandate-free health insurance policy
  • expand flexibility for MSAs and health reimbursement accounts.
  • transfer regulation of HMOs out of the Department of Health
  • provide incentives for purchasing individual insurance
  • set an objective to eliminate cost-shifting
  • reduce health care taxes

"If implemented, these ideas will reduce costs and promote consumer and patient driven health care," says Brase.

TROUBLING PROPOSALS:

"Because 'best practices' is becoming the code word for restricting the delivery of health care services, the following proposals raise concern that health care will be rationed," says Brase.

  • empower health plans to reward best practices
  • challenge provider groups to promote/reward best practices
  • promote chronic care (disease management) best practices
  • protect providers who use "best practices" from lawsuits

"Rewarding compliance with a health plan's or government's version of best practices promises to switch the focus of doctors from patients to payment," cautions Brase. "If implemented, these so called best practices may penalize doctors who think outside the box or try to customize their practice to meet the individual needs of patients."

Proposed immunity from malpractice lawsuits is particularly concerning to CCHC. Brase says that providing doctors who follow "best practices" with protection from litigation will drive doctors into compliance:

"Those who follow the approved cookbook for medical practice will not have to face the consequences of bad decisions," Brase says.

CCHC SUGGESTS COURSE OF ACTION

"Republicans should concentrate on consumer-driven, patient-friendly ideas that return a competitive health care market to Minnesota, says Brase.

"Patients who gain more control of their own health care dollars will quickly figure out for themselves whether a doctor's practice best meets their medical needs," asserts Brase.

LINK TO REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL and PUBLIC COMMENT PAGE:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/gop/hccc.html

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President
Phone: 651-646-8935 (office)
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