Fred Thompson on Health Care

Former Republican Senator (TN)

I like mandates; mandates work

Q: You debated Romney on the issue of health insurance, where he made it clear, he does support mandates, forcing people, in effect, to buy health insurance:

ROMNEY: I like mandates. The mandates work.

Q: You disagree with him on that?

A: I disagree with him on that. And he disagrees with himself on that, because when it came time to put together his plan for the nation, he didn’t have those mandates in it because he knew it wouldn’t fly [nationally, even if] it might fly in Massachusetts So he took that portion out of his health-care bill. I simply don’t think it is a good idea to tell Americans what they’ve got to do--and that includes health care--when it has to do with themselves. If we lowered health-care costs, if we trusted the market economies and changed our tax system so that the market could work more efficiently, give people more power to make their own decisions and open up the market, prices would go down, and that would help people who want insurance to buy insurance.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 6, 2008

Make insurance portable so employment untied from health

We made a mistake in our tax code many years ago [that caused employers to provide health insurance for employees]. We need to reverse that mistake so people are not so tied to their employment for their insurance. It would be portable so people could take their insurance with them from job to job. As we know, people through a lifetime nowadays, have more jobs than they used to.
Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Lower cost by more efficient markets, not bigger government

Q: What to do with the 15 million Hispanics who don’t have insurance?

A: The lower health care costs are, the more people will be insured. There’s really two basic ways to lower health care costs: bigger government or more efficient markets. Government could come in and say what it’s going to cost everybody. And then we’d have long lines & waiting, wondering why we can’t get radiation for a family member that has cancer and have to wait for months for it, and that sort of thing. We totally, I think, all reject that. I say, let’s make our markets more efficient. We made a mistake in our tax code many years ago. We need to reverse that mistake so people are not so tied to their employment for their insurance. They need, through the tax code, need to have the benefit of buying their own insurance through an open market with more sources, more people offering insurance, lifting regulations to make that happen. Free people competing with each other in free and open markets bring down costs.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Less benefits for high-income Medicare beneficiaries

Q: You have said that we couldn’t really afford the prescription drug bill that was passed under President Bush. You have talked about the possibility that high-income Medicare beneficiaries would have to accept less benefits. Are you prepared to say, tonight, that you would propose these things and make them part of your campaign?

A: Yes. As I think that you have stated them, yes. I don’t want to be bound to your exact words, but the principles that you’ve outlined are absolutely correct.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida Oct 21, 2007

One-size-fits-all programs are inefficient & inadequate

Every American should be able to get health insurance coverage that is affordable, fully accessible, and portable. Coverage should meet their individual needs and put them in control. Those who propose a one-size-fits-all Washington-controlled program ignore the cost, inefficiency, and inadequate care that such a system offers. Access to affordable, portable health care can be made available for all Americans without imposing new mandates or raising taxes.
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

Competition, free-market solutions & personal responsibility

Americans have the best healthcare in the world. Some, however, choose not be insured; others cannot afford it. Current government programs must be streamlined & improved so that those who truly need help can get the health care they need. I am committed to a healthcare system that:
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

Your own decisions are better than massive bureaucracy

Rising health care costs are a major problem. We have the best health care in the world but we are paying more than we should for it. We have a massive bureaucracy in both the private and public health care sectors that controls costs by dictating what services we are allowed to get and when. Someone has to decide what costs are worth the money. It can be the government, the insurance company or it can be you. I think it is best if you, yourself decide what is best for you and your family, with insurance that doesn’t have to depend on your employment--coverage that you can take with you if you change jobs; insurance that you may purchase from anywhere in the nation for the best value. This would be market driven and would make health insurance affordable for more Americans.
Source: Candidacy announcement speech Sep 6, 2007

We have world’s best medical system but it’s too expensive

We have a good problem in this country, and that is we have the best medical system in the world. It’s too expensive; we need to do something about it. There needs to be a lot of conversation about it. But in the meantime, we need to ensure we don’t destroy the best of something that man has ever created that is keeping so many people alive so much longer.
Source: Address at the Lincoln Club 45th Annual Dinner Aug 3, 2007

Americans better served than nationalized Canadian system

We’re hearing those phrases again; national health care, universal health care, socialized medicine. We’re being told that government bureaucrats can take over our entire medical industry--which by the way is the best and most complex in the world--and make it better.

It used to be a lot easier to make the case for nationalizing health care before we actually started looking at the countries that have it. Nearest home, it was the Canadian Health Care system that lost its luster. Despite paying 40% of each tax dollar on health care, many Canadian experts have recognized that their health care system’s in a state of crisis. The problem has been, simply, not enough health care facilities to serve the population--leading to long and sometimes fatal delays while waiting for treatments. Many Canadians have started coming to the US for treatments that they just can’t get at home.

This is what we’re supposed to copy? The poorest Americans are getting far better service than that.

Source: Thompson’s blog on ABCradio.com, “Duplicating Disaster” Jun 26, 2007

A good number of the people choose not to be insured

If you lower costs, more people who want insurance will be able to afford it. We’re probably never going to achieve total coverage. A good number of the people who are uninsured can afford it and choose not to do so. A good number of people who are eligible for government assistance, and choose--can manage and choose not to.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

We’ve got the best health care in the world

We’ve got the best health care in the world. It costs more than it should. We can either go one of two ways. We can let the government take it over, and that’ll lower costs, like they do in other countries. We will also sacrifice care, which we’re not going to do. Or we can make the markets work more efficiently. There are a lot of components to that. Part of that is not just giving a tax break to the individual. That’s part of it. But it’s also putting them in a position to get the best prices for th care they’re getting. We do that in every other aspect of our life. That’s what keeps prices as low as they are. If the consumer had no concept of what the product was costing and did no shopping for it, when you could get an MRI here for one price or over here for half the price, you don’t even know that to make the choice. It wouldn’t work at all. You can open up these markets so a person can buy their insurance from all over the country. We’ve got various state regulations that prohibit that.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Medicare drug payment methods are fundamentally flawed

Medicare’s payment methodology for drugs is fundamentally flawed. Medicare bases its payments on a drug’s “average wholesale price.” However, the “average wholesale price” that Medicare uses is essentially meaningless since it bears little or no resemblance to actual wholesale prices available to physicians, suppliers, and other large government purchasers. The Medicare reimbursement rate for a particular drug sometimes also includes payment for dispensing and administering a drug.
Source: Government at the Brink, by Fred Thompson, Vol.2, p. 50-51 Jun 3, 2001

Medicare loses $11B per year to errors and fraud

Each year, the Medicare program loses a significant portion of its total budget to erroneous payments. These include payments to people who are not eligible for Medicare, payments for goods or services that are not covered by Medicare, or higher payments than allowed for covered goods or services. The $11.9 billion lost in 2000 due to errors was 6.8% of the entire fee-for-service budget for that year. These criminals seem capable of cheating the government with frightening ease.
Source: Government at the Brink, by Fred Thompson, Vol.2, p. 47-49 Jun 3, 2001

Voted NO on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada.

S. 812, as amended; Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2002. Vote to pass a bill that would permit a single 30-month stay against Food and Drug Administration approval of a generic drug patent when a brand-name company's patent is challenged. The secretary of Health and Human Services would be authorized to announce regulations allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers that provide drugs for importation would be required to register with Health and Human Services. Individuals would be allowed to import prescription drugs from Canada. The medication would have to be for an individual use and a supply of less than 90-days.
Reference: Bill S.812 ; vote number 2002-201 on Jul 31, 2002

Voted NO on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages.

Vote to provide federal protections, such as access to specialty and emergency room care, and allow patients to sue health insurers in state and federal courts. Economic damages would not be capped, and punitive damages would be capped at $5 million.
Reference: Bill S1052 ; vote number 2001-220 on Jun 29, 2001

Voted YES on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Vote to pass an amendment that would make up to $300 billion available for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for 2002 through 2011. The money would come from the budget's contingency fund. The amendment would also require a Medicare overhaul.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-65 on Apr 3, 2001

Voted NO on including prescription drugs under Medicare.

Vote to establish a prescription drug benefit program through the Medicare health insurance program. Among other provisions, Medicare would contribute at least 50% of the cost of prescription drugs and beneficiaries would pay a $250 deductible
Reference: Bill HR.4690 ; vote number 2000-144 on Jun 22, 2000

Voted YES on limiting self-employment health deduction.

The Santorum (R-PA) amdt would effectively kill the Kennedy Amdt (D-MA) which would have allowed self-employed individuals to fully deduct the cost of their health insurance on their federal taxes.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)53; N)47
Reference: Santorum Amdt #1234; Bill S. 1344 ; vote number 1999-202 on Jul 13, 1999

Voted NO on increasing tobacco restrictions.

This cloture motion was on a bill which would have increased tobacco restrictions. [YES is an anti-smoking vote].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)57; N)42; NV)1
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on a modified committee substitute to S. 1415; Bill S. 1415 ; vote number 1998-161 on Jun 17, 1998

Voted YES on Medicare means-testing.

Approval of means-based testing for Medicare insurance premiums.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)70; N)20
Reference: Motion to table the Kennedy Amdt #440; Bill S. 947 ; vote number 1997-113 on Jun 24, 1997

Voted NO on blocking medical savings acounts.

Vote to block a plan which would allow tax-deductible medical savings accounts.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)52; N)46; NV)2
Reference: Kassebaum Amdt #3677; Bill S. 1028 ; vote number 1996-72 on Apr 18, 1996

Other candidates on Health Care: Fred Thompson on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010