By John Schaffner

“The status quo of health care in the U.S. today is unacceptable,” U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) told a group of about 50 business and civic leaders at the Sandy Springs City Hall Sept. 1, “but the quality of our health care is second to none.” He indicated nothing good will come from the federal government taking over the system.

At a town hall meeting sponsored by the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, Price laid out his six principals for providing quality health care options for all Americans: affordability, accessibility, quality of care and service, responsiveness, inventiveness and a number of choices.

“Any principal you pick from that list is not improved by the intervention of federal government,” he added.

Roswell resident Price, who has been a practitioner within the health care system for decades, is committed to decisions on treatment and health care being left in the hands of the patients and their doctors. “The answer is in empowering patients. Put them in charge of the system,” he stated emphatically.

He declared the just-passed month as “a wonderful August,” because the rush to pass the Democrat-sponsored HR 3200 health care bill was slowed and put off and “because people have become engaged in this process.” Declaring HR 3200 a horrible bill, Price instead was promoting HR 3400, which he dubs the “empowering patients first act.”

Price explained there are not 45 million people today uninsured in the U.S. He said the 45 million figure can be divided into four groups of about 8-12 million people each: (1) People here illegally, (2) Those eligible for some other program and just have not signed up (such as Medicare), (3) the young immortals and financially well-off who have made a financial decision not to buy insurance, and (4) the truly uninsured, which he said amounts to 8-12 million.

Price believes in using “carrots” to get people to make use of insurance options, such as the use of tax deductions, tax credits or refundable tax credits.

Price said the Republican-sponsored HR 3400 addresses five major health care system concerns:

–How to get more people insured through the use of “carrots”;

–Correct the problems now associated within insurance policies (creates greater portability, creates opportunity for high-risk/reinsurance pools, protects employer-sponsored insurance plans);

–Retains decisions being between patients and doctors and allows employers to offer healthy habits discounts;

–Provides liability reform through health courts in each state, speedy resolution of claims and capping of non-economic damages; and,

–Does it without raising taxes.

After fielding a number of questions from the audience about specific issues within the health care system, Price wrapped up his 16th town hall meeting on the issue with a challenge to the audience.

He said the moderate Democrats hold the cards at this time in the U.S. House on this issue. He indicated there is a center majority in the House. “The process is very fluid at this time,” he said. “The decision rests with the American people” through the lobbying of their representatives.