Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Thursday that Republicans needs to “force the conversation” of healthcare reform onto the industry’s back, contending that if the industry does not change, Medicare for All will win.
Sen. Braun spoke with Breitbart News in an extensive interview over healthcare reform, Republicans’ messaging challenges with health care, and his proposed solutions to lowering healthcare costs.
In the first article, Braun told Breitbart News about how the Republican Party has failed to propose a viable and credible alternative to Obamacare and Medicare for All and that too often the GOP has served as “apologists for the health care industry” and benefitted from the health care “gravy-train.”
Braun spoke about the healthcare industry becoming too concentrated and his proposed solutions. The Hoosier conservative contended that if the healthcare industry does not soon reform itself, they could soon face the single-payer, government-run healthcare scheme known as Medicare for All.
“I actually put more of the burden and blame for the issues we’ve had with health care at the industry. They’re the ones that ought to be smart enough to know they got to get with it or they will have one partner only, and that’s the federal government. So, my mantra [for his business] has been ‘never go broke because you get sick or have a bad accident,’ incorporate that into everything you do. The industry can fix it if they get with it. The federal government is just going to be the tool of the Democrats that try to move to Medicare for All,” Braun said.
Sen. Braun suggested that Republicans need to force the healthcare industry to change for the better, or the Democrats will move towards Medicare for All.
“We as Republicans need to force the conversation onto the industry’s back. And if not, we’re going to be left holding the bag in 2020 to where they’re going to say that all we were focused on was repeal and had nothing to talk about in terms of how to fix the system. They’ll win, and I hate to see that,” the Hoosier senator said.
Braun said that we could improve the healthcare industry by shrinking the “size of the health care industry by making it transparent and competitive, letting the best providers survive.”
Sen. Braun has not remained on the sidelines simply voicing concern; he introduced legislation this week that would require health insurance providers to disclose their prices of covered medical procedures. The bill, otherwise known as the True Price Act for transparency to healthcare costs, would require insurers to disclose the negotiated price for each medical service covered by a person’s insurance plan and any cost-sharing amounts (co-pays or deductibles) that may be charged to the enrollee. The bill would require the prices to be posted on the insurer’s website and in paper form.
“I just dropped a bill the other day that would ask for pure transparency throughout the whole health care industry,” Braun explained. “Anybody that sells a product or a service, you see the prices in a clear, understandable way, in print or on the web.”
Sen. Braun charged that increased transparency will help lower costs and empower Americans to truly see the cost of health care. The Hoosier senator said that they need to present a case for their costs or Medicare for All will win.
“You do that by letting consumers do the heavy lifting. Where do you have to ask what does it cost? Where would you go to the hospital, we’ve been conditioned to avoid it because insurance companies want to negotiate all of that with their fat profit margins with the broken system that we’ve got. So we got to be honest, the industry needs to get with it, get around the fact that the whole ship has sailed on what Obamacare was about and be willing to argue and present a case or else the Democrats will win again, or else the Democrats will be worse because the American public will be fed up and will default to Medicare for All and then we’re all going to regret it,” Braun said.
Braun contended that much of the healthcare industry remains too concentrated. The 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act created an antitrust exemption for the health insurance industry. The senator said he would “definitely” be interested in looking at removing this exemption to create more health insurance competition.
Sen. Braun said, “Definitely, and there I would be in line with the liberal Democrats, but they never talk about the cost of anything. They think that more federal government is the panacea for everything. And that’s the essence of what’s wrong with their approach. Nothing that goes through the federal government is ever more effective and less costly than the alternative could be.”
Braun’s comments arise as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study last week that found that the three largest health insurance companies dominate the large group market (covering employer-sponsored health insurance), small group market (covering small businesses), and the individual market.
The GAO found that the three largest issuers control 80 percent of the market or more in at least 37 of 51 states; the GAO found similar results from 2011 to 2014, though it would appear that the health insurance market has become more concentrated since Obamacare became law.
“I’m concerned too because the industry is getting too concentrated; you used to have many health insurance companies, now you have three or four, you used to have many hospital chains, now it’s much more concentrated. There’s an argument that, like many other industries, this has reached too far down the trail of never being able to be robustly competitive,” Braun continued. “So, Democrats ought to be interested in lowering costs, that helps all of us … We need to get it down to 12-14 percent of our GDP; everybody benefits.”
Sen. Braun lamented how slow Congress moves to act on crucial issues.
The senator recounted one moment with a Senate colleague that illustrated how slowly Congress moves on significant issues. Sen. Braun asked the senator how long they have been working on criminal justice reform, to which the other senator told Braun “11 to 12 years.” Braun said, “My jaw dropped it would take that long to do something that had snuck up on them.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) pushed for significant health insurance reforms such as Associations Health Plans (AHPs) but faced years of opposition from the health insurance industry until President Donald Trump ultimately signed an executive order expanding AHPs.
“Why did that not occur [earlier]? Because of health care lobbyists that basically prevented it state by state, and if they haven’t stopped in that fashion, there’s a strong lobby here [in D.C.],” Braun said.
The healthcare industry has largely benefitted from its concentrated and profitable status quo, and they do not want to move to better the industry and prevent Americans’ from becoming increasingly favorable towards Medicare for All.
“The sad thing is, the industry itself is doing so well under the status quo, it’s not seeing the end game which seems that they’re going to be particularly from what they’re doing now,” Braun said. “If they reform themselves, it’ll avoid Medicare for All, be the best of the industry it’ll also lower the cost where it’ll be closer to 12 to 14 percent of the GDP.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.