Tarrant unveils comprehensive health care reform plan

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(Host) Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Tarrant has unveiled a comprehensive plan to reform the nation’s health care system.

Tarrant’s proposal calls for a public/private partnership to provide universal access to health care for all people.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Under the proposal, all uninsured individuals would be allowed to buy into the federal Medicare program based on their ability to pay.

Tarrant says the program will cost between 45 and 60 billion dollars and he wants to pay for it by increasing the Medicare payroll tax that’s currently imposed on all workers.

Tarrant wants to expand Medicare because he believes it’s a well run government program but he doesn’t want Medicare in charge of all health care:

(Tarrant) “If you let Medicare do everything then you lose the competitiveness of the marketplace. If you let the post office do everything and you got FedEx out of the way you got UPS out of the way, eventually it would become inefficient and very ineffective. So the free market can work very well as long as there is the other option for those who need that other option.”

(Kinzel) As an alternative to Medicare, Tarrant wants to enhance opportunities for the private health insurance market. He thinks insurance companies should be allowed to offer policies in any state in the country without dealing with local mandates such as maternity or mental health benefits.

Tarrant says his plan will help lower premiums because it will significantly reduce the cost shift of uncompensated care to private insurance companies.

He doesn’t believe that the private companies will insure only healthy people and leave older and sicker individuals for the government to cover.

(Tarrant) “You can’t have all the privates chasing just healthy people. They wouldn’t have enough business to do that. If they set their premiums right then can insure the unhealthy as well.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant says everyone who signs up for Medicare would be given a health risk assessment to help identify patients who need preventative care for chronic illnesses.

(Tarrant) “By using those tests we can zero in on the 10% of the population that’s driving 70 % of the costs. So if we want to get the costs out of the system we’ve got 10% of the people we’ve really got to work on. We can identify them with these health risk assessments. We can intervene early. We can manage their therapy throughout their life if it’s diabetes or other chronic diseases that last forever and get that under control.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant also supports the development of an electronic health records system that would be maintained by insurance companies. He says these records would provide a comprehensive health history whenever a patient saw a new doctor.

Tarrant says the system would reduce paperwork by 75% because doctors would no longer need to keep thousands of patient records on file because they could access this information electronically from the individual’s insurance company.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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