After several weeks of having the Arizona Republican Party link him to the Obama administration and House Democrats, Congressional District 8 candidate Ron Barber released a statement yesterday explaining what he would change in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Barber, who is facing Republican Jesse Kelly in the special election to determine who will finish Gabrielle Giffords' congressional term, has a certain degree of latitude that an incumbent would not enjoy. Since he was not in Congress, he didn't have to vote up or down on any controversial legislation, whether it was health-care reform or the stimulus.
In fact, one of Barber's proposed reforms—to work to create outcome-based medical compensation—dovetails with proposals that have come from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Former state lawmaker Jonathan Paton, who is now seeking the Republican nomination in the new Congressional District 1, has often talked about how paying for outcomes rather than procedures is a step toward lowering health-care costs.
Here's the release from Barber:
Today Ron Barber called for reform of the Affordable Care Act, which is currently before the US Supreme Court, and clarified his positions on US energy policy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Barber offered a plan detailing several aspects of the health care and stimulus legislation that are in need of reform.
"I was not in Congress to vote on the Affordable Care Act or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, nor did I have any role in shaping that legislation—the mail brochures and phone calls saying I did so are simply false," Barber said. "There are several parts of the Affordable Care Act that I do not support, and if I am elected I will work to change them. It all comes down to affordability and consumer choice. We have to make health care more affordable, both because it is the right thing to do for individuals and small businesses, and because our economy as a whole cannot grow as much as it needs to if health care costs continue to rise. We must ensure that consumer choice is not endangered."
Barber's reform plan for the Affordable Care Act includes:
1. Protecting Small Businesses, Individuals and Families from Increased Premium Costs
"Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can raise premium rates at any time, which can only hurt middle class families and small companies," said Barber. "This should change. In Congress, I will work to implement guidelines that insurance companies must respect, so that premiums cannot be jacked up into the stratosphere. Rates must be affordable."
2. Prevention and Outcome-Based Billing
Under our current health care system, medical providers are compensated for specific procedures. This has driven up the cost of care. In Congress, Barber will work to promote pilot programs in outcome-based medical compensation, where providers would be given incentives for delivering healthy outcomes, rather than limiting compensation to payment for specific procedures.
3. Prescription Drug Price Reform
The Affordable Care Act does not allow Medicare officials to negotiate with big pharmaceutical companies for the prices of prescription medications, as the Veterans Administration is allowed to do. For this reason, the VA can offer veterans better prices than Medicare can offer to seniors. "We must be able to use federal purchasing power to bring down drug prices for seniors, " said Barber. "I will work in Congress to save seniors money on medication by making this important change."
4. No Medicare Benefit Cuts
Much has been made of the $500 billion in so-called “cuts” to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act. Ron Barber opposes any cuts to Medicare benefits. He has repeatedly outlined this position, in statements on March 20, 2012, March 29, 2012, and April 19, 2012 and in an op-ed in the Green Valley News published on April 15, 2012. Any negative attack to the contrary is completely false.
Additionally, Barber reaffirmed his stance on energy policy. He opposes higher energy taxes and believes we should support expanding American energy production, including renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. “We must support policies which bring down energy costs, including expanding US production of oil and natural gas, and make long-term investments in renewable sources of energy, like solar. In Arizona this will mean new jobs in a growing solar industry that now ranks third in the nation.”
Finally, Barber believes that the Recovery Act should have had better safeguards in place to make sure that spending went to creating jobs and included a long-term framework for reducing the deficit. Companies that received stimulus funds must be held accountable to ensure that expenditures are fully reported, are done so in a timely manner and adhere to the job-creation goal of the project. Barber said, “A stimulus package should ensure that the jobs promised were created—and we must be cognizant of the fact that short-term spending must not harm our long-term fiscal viability.”