With the federal government running up record deficits, people are “really worried” about adding another trillion dollars or more to the red ink in order to create a national health care program, said U.S. Senate hopeful Rob Simmons.
Simmons, a Republican who aims to unseat incumbent Democrat Chris Dodd next year, said the nation’s health care system offers “uniformly high quality” but its costs are too high.
He said that reducing the cost can be done in part through tort reforms that would make it harder for lawyers to win costly judgments for their patients against doctors.
Changing the tort process, Simmons said, would eliminate “the biggest cost driver” in the medical system -- defensive medicine practiced by doctors who don’t want to get sued so they order more tests and procedures than may be necessary.
Simmons said the cost of heath care could decline as much as 30 percent if doctors didn’t have to worry about frivolous lawsuits.
He said the legal system’s handling of cases of alleged malpractice is “very inefficient” and doesn’t even help patients who are harmed as much as it should.
Simmons said that he would like to see a special court devoted to handling the cases that would streamline the process, accelerate payments to injured patients and end the wide variation of payouts that the jury system allows.
In addition, Simmons said, health insurance should be portable and not bound by state lines.
Simmons, a former congressman, also said that electronic records should be done soon so that hospitals and health care providers anywhere can quickly access a patient’s health history.
He said he would like to see electronic records pushed as part of the stimulus effort because it would help patients, doctors and hospitals.
Simmons said that part of the health care solution is to deal with people who are in the country illegally, many of them working but not covered by health insurance. He said he intends to talk about the issue in the future.
Simmons said that “done right,” heath care can be improved if middle of the road officials back a plan that works, leaving out if necessary those on the right and left who won’t go along with it.
He said that when the Congress passed a prescription drug plan for the elderly, it showed the right way to seek a solution -- long negotiations, compromise and careful tailoring of the legislation.
Simmons is the front-runner in a field of GOP hopefuls angling to unseat Dodd in 2010.
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