Following an immediate repeal of the health law, Herman Cain as president would sign a replacement bill designed to reduce costs and increase coverage with less government involvement.
The measure embraced by Cain on Wednesday was first offered in 2009 by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and was reintroduced this September. It has 19 House Republican cosponsors.
“It’s the kind of legislation I’d love to be able to sign,” Cain said, appearing on Capitol Hill at the invitation of a Republican health care caucus in the House led by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.
The Price bill would provide new tax deductions and credits for the purchase of health insurance by individuals while giving states block grants to create or enhance high-risk pools to cover people with chronic, high-cost health conditions. It would provide refundable tax credits to help low-income individuals buy health insurance.
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries would be given the option of buying health insurance in the private market. To reduce medical malpractice costs, states could establish so-called health courts that specialize in medical issues.
Price has said that his plan would be financed by decreasing defensive medicine, and ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse from the health care system, among other steps.
Cain stressed the importance of reducing costs while sharply limiting the federal government’s role in health care. “When you let the free market system and competition do what it does best, it brings down costs,” he said.
He said he would decrease federal regulation, partially by transforming the federal share of Medicaid into block grants to the states. He also would get rid of the Independent Payment Advisory Board that the health law created to reduce costs in Medicare, and other parts of the health care system. Critics say that the recommendations of the board will lead to rationing of medical care. “That takes away people’s freedom,” Cain said.
Cain, who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2006, said that he survived because of his ability to make decisions in the health care system. He described two rounds of chemotherapy and major surgery in a cancer treatment that lasted nine months. “In some socialized countries, you can’t get a CT scan in nine months. I had a 30 percent chance. If bureaucrats had made the decision, they would have said, ‘Don’t waste the money.’”
Cain addressed reporters, congressional staff and about a half dozen members of Congress about his health care ideas, which closely track conservative philosophy. When he was done, and there was silence, he asked, “Are you too busy to applaud?”
Cain took questions from a few members of Congress about health care, but then exited quickly, as reporters bombarded him with questions about accusations that he sexually harassed employees when he was head of the National Restaurant Association. He didn’t answer any of the questions and walked out the door, flanked by a security guard.
Mary Agnes Carey contributed.