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Affordable & Accessible Health Care

  • As a physician running for Governor, I am in a unique position to understand health care issues, and to protect Alabama from the unwarranted and unnecessary federal intrusion into our personal health care choices;
  • I started laying the groundwork for Alabama's rejection of Obamacare by pre-filing a Constitutional Amendment on October 13, 2009 which will prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.  It also codifies Alabama's 10th Amendment rights over this issue;
  • I have real-world solutions that will result in affordable and accessible health care for all Alabamians without bankrupting our nation or pushing us closer toward a government-controlled, single-payer system.

National Solutions to Reduce Costs in America's Health Care System

As Governor, I will work with other conservative Governors to encourage Congress to pass federal legislation to drive down prices by increasing competition, while working within a capitalist framework. Those provisions include:

A. Portability of Insurance across State Lines. There is no valid reason why Alabamians should be prohibited from purchasing health insurance policies from companies in other States. By allowing the people of Alabama to have access to all of the country's health insurance products, competition would increase and cause health insurance premiums to decline.

B. Tax Deductibility for the Self-Employed. Unemployed individuals and those who work for small businesses that do not provide health benefits should be allowed the same 100% tax deduction for health insurance costs that corporations receive.

C. Meaningful Tort Reform. As a physician, I can attest to the fact that the practice of defensive medicine is a strong factor in the rising costs of medical care in America.  Meaningful tort reform legislation to end lawsuit abuse against the medical profession is necessary to make any significant impact on the costs of health care.  Establishing a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages would end the practice of ordering unnecessary, expensive tests simply to avoid lawsuits.  It would also significantly reduce the role of trial lawyers in our medical system.

D. Change Medicaid Awards. Currently, Medicaid dollars are allocated to the States on a match basis, meaning the federal government matches whatever each state spends. This should change immediately to a system that allocates Medicaid dollars based on need so that States with the most urgent needs would receive the most funds. For example, if Alabama has 5% of the nation's impoverished individuals, Alabama should receive 5 % of federal Medicaid money regardless of how much money the state allocates for health care for the needy.

E. Medicare Payments to Medical Professionals. Any increase in federal Medicare spending should be directed to Medicare to increase payments to hospitals and primary care physicians.


Alabama-Specific Health Care Solutions

We do not need to wait for the federal government to act.  There are solutions that we can enact in Alabama to increase the affordability of health care without the need to raise taxes or borrow from future generations.  These are:

A. Establish a Statewide Insurance Exchange. A state insurance exchange would encourage more companies to write health insurance policies for Alabamians.  It will also increase competition among insurance companies, which will drive down costs for Alabamians.

B. Tax Incentives. We must encourage health insurance companies from all over the country to write policies in Alabama. By offering tax incentives to companies that provide health insurance to Alabamians, more companies would do business in our state, which would increase health care access.

C. Health Savings Accounts. Establishing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in Alabama will add a much-needed consumer element to medicine. Much like an IRA, HSAs allow individuals to contribute pre-tax finds into an account explicitly dedicated to pay for medical costs. Coupling these accounts with high deductable insurance policies will save Alabamians millions of dollars.

D. Tax Deductions. Alabamians who pay their own insurance premiums should be able to deduct 100% of the premium costs on their Alabama Income Taxes.

E. Electronic Medical Records. We should immediately adopt a Statewide, interconnected electronic medical records system tailored for each medical specialty.

F. Individual Ownership of Medical Records. Each Alabamian should be allowed to own their personal medical records in an electronic format.  This will allow patients to keep their records on a portable keychain-sized flash drive to bring with them to any doctor they visit. This will allow quick, accurate sharing of information between a patient's doctors and reduce the need for repetitive testing, which in turn will reduce costs.

G. Prescription Transfers. By encouraging the electronic transfer of prescriptions from the physician to the pharmacist, errors and prescription abuse can be drastically reduced.

H. Tax credits for Indigent Care. There are many doctors who treat indigent patients for no pay. These healthcare providers should receive tax credits, and special emphasis should be given to doctors who are required to treat the uninsured as a result of working on a hospital staff.

I. Mandate cost savings education. All medical students should receive special training on reducing health care costs during the final year of school and during their residencies.

J. More primary care physicians. Obamacare will drive good doctors away from the practice of medicine. That is the exact opposite of what we need in Alabama and across the United States. We should encourage training more primary care physicians, not fewer. To accomplish this goal, we should dedicate 25% of each Alabama medical school class to students who will enter family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB-GYN, or general surgery. Furthermore, we should award $40,000 per year scholarships to each of student who pursues primary care.  Upon completion of their medical training, those students will be required to provide full-time medical service for four years in a medically underserved area of Alabama.  This will produce an additional 60 primary care physicians a year. However, Alabama needs at least 100 doctors per year to meet existing and projected needs.  The additional 40 primary care doctors will be trained through a new Alabama Medical Education Consortium program. This program will be known as the Alabama Health Service Corps. We also should establish similar programs for nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, and other ancillary health care providers.

In Alabama, we have an advantage that few other States have in fighting the left-wing agenda on health care. By having a physician in the Governor's Office, we will have a knowledgeable, committed, conservative voice to ensure that Alabama remains an "Obamacare Free Zone."

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