Bennett Touts Bipartisan Plan Over ‘HillaryCare’

Posted September 4, 2008 at 5:23pm

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) touted a bipartisan plan today for expanding health care coverage through expanded tax breaks rather than the universal plan championed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

“I think it’s appropriate that those that were involved in the fight over ‘HillaryCare’ have forgotten how hard it was or have retired,” said Bennett, speaking at a health care forum at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

The panel discussion also included: Jeff Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center; Steve Mahle, executive vice president of health care policy at Medtronic; and Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute. Panelists noted that although health care talks have been on political agendas for decades, finding consensus has been difficult.

Bennett outlined the Wyden-Bennett health care bill, also known as the Healthy Americans Act, which he co-sponsored with Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden. The bill focuses on changing tax laws and requires individuals to purchase health care plans.

“The best cost-control activity in which we could engage is quality,” Bennett said when referring to how to cut health care costs. “People have no idea how much is spent on health care per year. It’s basically somewhere around $12,000 to $14,000 per American per year.”

Another panelist, Steve Mahle, agreed.

“This is a problem we all need to solve. From the business side, we really relate to this question of quality. The largest expense is correcting our quality problems,” Mahle said. When creating more quality and efficient health care, Mahle argued, health care costs go down.

Turner noted that a problem with the current health care system is it “locks health insurance to the workplace.” According to Turner, 4 in 10 workers change jobs every year, thus losing the health insurance provided by the employer. “If you are going to give people portability, you have to unlock the lock between employees and the workplace,” she added.