Monday, September 25, 2006

Ford Vs. Corker On Healthcare: No Contest

Last week on the Ford Report, I posted Congressman Ford's comprehensive healthcare plan for everyone to read.

It looks as though that posting prompted our good friend R. Neal over at KnoxViews to do some research at compare the two Senate candidates on the issue.

His findings are as follows:

Harold Ford, Jr.

Says the we spend $2 trillion per year on healthcare, but we aren't getting much bang for our buck. 45 million Americans are uninsured, 700,000 of them in Tennessee. We pay more than other countries, but suffer worse outcomes.

Summary of Ford's proposed solutions:
  • Access to healthcare for all: Similar to mandatory homeowner's and car insurance, require adults to obtain coverage for themselves and their children. "Give universal healthcare coverage, but only if people are willing to accept universal responsibility."
  • A redesigned primary healthcare system: Supports Future of Family Medicine Project, which advocates a new model of patient care to address the healthcare crisis. "We need to encourage this kind of problem-solving and give doctors the tools they need to put their answers into practice."
  • Tort reform: "Too many frivolous claims are filed against doctors who did nothing wrong. We need to set up tribunals with qualified review boards in our court system to screen claims for legitimacy before they go to trial."
  • Use Technology to Improve Healthcare Quality: Supports the 21st Century Health Information Act, to use health information technology to transform the healthcare system by preventing medical errors, improving the use of best practices in medicine, reducing unnecessary duplication, streamlining administration, creating vast new research and public health monitoring opportunities and radically changing quality reporting.
  • Promoting Medicaid enrollment for those eligible: Supports low-cost portals at hospitals and health centers to register them and begin addressing their needs. When someone eligible for Medicaid comes in for treatment, they will automatically be registered.
  • Those who can afford coverage but decline it: For those who are in good health and consider coverage too costly, the "federal government should work with insurance companies to design high-deductible, low-premium plans to serve these people."
  • Those who cannot afford health insurance but who do not qualify for Medicaid: These people deserve a system with sliding scale subsidies to provide affordable coverage with smaller subsidies as incomes rise.
  • Association Health Plans: Supports allowing small businesses to pool their resources and buy health insurance for their workers at a lower price.
  • Tax Credits for Employers: Supports tax credits for employers who assume responsibility by providing minimum levels of coverage to their employees instead of shirking their responsibilities by looking to Medicaid to cover their employees’ health needs.
  • Allow Medicare and Medicaid to Negotiate Directly With Drug Companies: "It is inexcusable that we do not allow Medicare – the country’s biggest purchaser of prescription drugs – to use its negotiating power to get cheaper prices for our seniors."
COMMENTS: These are rational first-steps towards solving the problems. In my opinion, there should be less emphasis on employer provided health insurance, but that is the reality we currently operate in so these proposals make sense in that context. "Tort reform" is also troublesome, but this approach (which was also proposed by John Edwards during his presidential campaign) is a good compromise.

Bob Corker:


COMMENTS: Bob Corker does not have a topic for "Health Care" on his "issues" page. Under "Jobs", Corker says insurance should be "more affordable, accessible, and portable" and that he supports health savings accounts. That's it. Bob Corker does not state any other positions on health care or offer any other proposed solutions at his website. This suggests that Bob Corker does not see health care as a high priority issue that the United States Senate should address.

I think Neal's comparison says it all.

While Ford actually gets and understands the healthcare crisis and has smart solutions as listed above, Corker has no plan and no clue.

The choice is clear.