Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants is touting four ideas he says could raise the quality and lower the cost of health care in Iowa. "Some of these proposals are common sense, practical solutions (like) electronic health records," Rants says. "Making a commitment that the state should enable that is something that I think both parties should be able to agree upon."
In addition to calling for all medical records in Iowa to be digitized within four years, Rants proposes adjusting the system of reimbursing hospitals for the care provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Rants says high-quality care should be rewarded with the highest payments.
"We have a real problem in this state with hospitals that in danger of going under in some cases because of low reimbursement rates," Rants says. "…There are things that we can do here in Iowa and state policymakers and candidates running for governor really ought to talk about what role the state has and what the state can do to try to improve things for Iowans."
Rants, a legislator from Sioux City, says the state should create a website where Iowans could find out more about what hospitals and doctors charge for certain services and find out more about insurance plans that are available in Iowa. "As patients, we really don’t have a lot of information. People walk into the doctor’s office, they walk into the emergency room and they don’t know what anything costs until they get the bill afterwards. They don’t know, you know, who has a good success rating and who doesn’t," Rants says.
"If we want to have patients become better consumers, we’ve got to give them more information." Rants is also pressing for a changes in the legal system that he says would reduce the medical malpractice insurance premiums Iowa doctors and hospitals are paying.
"I recognize that doing medical malpractice liability reform will be somewhat controversial, but there are some of those parts to my plan that I think even some Democrats could support," Rants says. For example, Rants suggests all medical malpractice cases go to mediation first, before a trial begins, and Rants would require a "certificate of merit" endorsed by another lawyer and an independent doctor before a medical malpractice suit could be filed.
Rants hints he’ll have more to say on the subject of health care reform between now and election day in 2010. "This is not the end-all, be-all list. These are four, practical, first-steps that need to be taken," Rants says. "There’s another 14 months to go in this campaign." The Republican Primary is scheduled for Tuesday, June 8th — about nine months away. The General Election is Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010.