Congress approved major changes to health care earlier this year, but Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said there are more plans being debated that could increase the scope of government-funded health care.
Crapo hosted a telephone question-and-answer session Wednesday with constituents. All of Idaho’s members of Congress, including Crapo, voted against legislation earlier this year that alters national health care policy, such as creating a mandate that people buy health insurance and expanding access to insurance to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Crapo said the new plans being discussed would further increase the government’s role, potentially through federally-backed medical co-ops, and that those ideas are too costly and miss the point on needed reforms for health care.
The senator said that if government-backed health care expands, there could be rationing of medical services or tax increases to pay for increased costs. He also said that the plans being discussed in Congress would also limit spending for Medicare, which provides medical services for elderly Americans.
Crapo backed several other health care reform ideas. He wants to let people shop across state lines for health insurance. Different states have differing requirements for insurance providers and varying monthly costs for buyers. He also favors letting small businesses band together to buy a shared insurance plan for their employees. Another change he’d like to see is tort reform, which would limit the maximum damages that health care providers would pay in lawsuits over medical malpractice. However, he said it’s unlikely such efforts will succeed on a national level.
Crapo said during the conference call that the costs of defensive medicine, which are actions taken to ward off malpractice lawsuits, are increasing.
Crapo is also calling for changes for research on pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal condition that causes scarring of the lungs and limits a person’s ability to breathe. He’s backing a plan from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., that would create a new advisory board to help the approximately 48,000 people each year who are diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis every year.
During the Q-and-A, Crapo said the federal government’s overall spending is out of control, and that the federal deficit is projected to double to $24 trillion over the next decade.
Crapo is on a bipartisan debt reduction commission that will offer recommendations to Congress on Dec. 1.
One area where Crapo wants to lower taxes in an effort to stimulate job growth is on craft breweries. He’s co-sponsoring a plan from Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., that would cut the excise tax on the first 10,000 barrels of beer a brewery produces from $7 to $3.50, and lower the tax of every additional barrel up to 2 million barrels from $18 to $16. Idaho Republican Mike Simpson and Democrat Walt Minnick support a similar plan in the U.S. House.