Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lentz and Meehan on Health Care

The congressional race in Pennsylvania's 7th district is one of the country's most competitive. Republican Pat Meehan and Democrat Bryan Lentz are running for the open seat currently held by Joe Sestak who is running for the Senate. Both candidates have some policy statements on their website. This post will examine one of them.

Meehan had four policy statements: transportation, health care, taxes, and the economy; Lentz had six, economy, renewable energy, health care, reforming government, veterans, and seniors.

Comparing apples to apples, let's look health care.

Meehan titles his policy simply "Health Care" while Lentz uses the more detailed "Lower Healthcare Costs and Improve Quality." What is interesting here is that they seem to have adopted each other's party line. Lentz makes reference to "eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse." Lentz's only specifics are ensuring people can keep their current doctor is they want to, and stopping discrimination for pre-existing conditions. Meehan provides more specifics. Here are a few: allowing people to keep their coverage as they move from job to job, ending consideration of pre-existing conditions, allowing people to purchase insurance policies across state lines, allowing groups to pool together when buying insurance (small businesses, trade associations, and individuals), prohibiting insurance companies from dropping covering because of illness, prohibiting insurance companies from instituting lifetime or annual caps, and allowing parents to children on their policy until they are 26.

Both men mention personal interests in health care, Lentz as a husband and father, Meehan as the husband of a nurse practitioner.

Both mention that health care costs are increasing. Lentz says

Though we spend more on healthcare than any other nation, our healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. These rising costs are unsustainable, and they are already crippling small businesses and making it almost impossible for hardworking families to make ends meet.
Meehan's campaign says
As the husband of a nurse practitioner, he knows that our current health care system is in need of reform and that health care costs are skyrocketing our of control. In many cases, those costs are being passed on to local residents in the form of changes to their health insurance plans, including higher co-pays, increased premiums, and increased prescription drug costs.

Meehan makes these statements:
The health care problems facing our nation today are the result of more than 50 years of ineffective public policy, business practices, and other factors. Pat Meehan believes it is critical that we implement health care reform correctly and thoughtfully based on effective solutions that keep intact the existing doctor-patient relationship and protect the ability of every American to keep their existing health insurance coverage without a government takeover of health care.

Lentz's statement is more a philosophy to guide his legislative actions. Meehan sets out a more involved, but yet contradictory course. He thinks people should be able to take their insurance coverage from job to job, which puts more of the responsibility and cost onto the individual and not the employer. He also states that he doesn't want a government takeover of health care, which, to me, means little or no government money, and thus more responsibility and cost onto the individual. He notes that costs are going up and that means higher premiums. But where is the solution to all this? Meehan states that he is not in favor of the legislation passed recently. He states that it will "jeopardize millions of jobs, force people out of their existing plans, increase premiums, cut Medicare for seniors, and raise taxes." However, it is interesting to note that most of the items on his wish list are in that legislation.

While he references reform "based on effective solutions" he doesn't say what those solutions are. The reference to buying health care insurance across state lines simply means buying a policy that doesn't cover all the things your state thinks insurance should cover (see quotes from GOP health care statement here). In other words, buying the cheapest coverage possible, taking it from job to job, which usually means paying for it yourself.

More on other policy statements in this race at a later date.


Pa Health said...

Good timing with the high risk pool coming out. But the real test will be in 2014 when we see what parts of reform are still sustainable.

Anonymous said...

looks like Meehan is talking from both sides of his mouth....