Giuliani Gets Healthy

By Ed O'Keefe

Jul 30, 2007 2:12pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper Reports: As a preview to Tuesday’s health care address by Rudy Giuliani in Rochester, NH, the former Mayor’s health care advisers held a conference call with reporters in which they discussed the broad outlines of the Mayor’s health care plan, which opposes employer and individual mandates, and favors individual health insurance, complete with a $15,000 tax deduction.

No one should expect a 700-page health care proposal to be sitting on chairs at the Rochester town meeting, Giuliani campaign staffers cautioned.

Rather, they said, this is more about a guiding set of principles, including empowering individuals and not government bureaucrats, respecting states as places where innovation occurs, limiting the role of the federal government to helping the market work more effectively, and creating a mandate-free health care delivery system that builds on what currently exists.

On Monday the advisers — led by former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith, one of the original self-styled "compassionate conservatives," and former Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Dr. Mark McClellan — shied away from discussing key elements voters will likely want to know more about — such as whether the Mayor’s proposal would include mental health care parity or whether he would support allowing the federal government to use its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices for the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which is currently banned.

Dan Kessler, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, said the Giuliani plan would "correct the tax bias against individually-purchased insurance and out-of-pocket spending."

Kessler said this bias was responsible for the growth in procedures and tests that don’t provide good value. That would bring costs down, he said, while Giuliani would also seek to create more incentives for states.

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Dr. David Gratzer, a physician and author of "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care," said that Democrats were moving towards socialized medicine, looking towards Canada and Europe for answers.

"We need a made-in-America solution," Gratzer said.

Giuliani’s plan reflects the "need to put the doctor and the patient back in charge," said Sally C. Pipes, president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based think tank Pacific Research Institute.

She said Democrats pushing for universal coverage through individual and employer mandates "will not solve the problem of the uninsured. We need to open up the market and improve on the best health care system in the world."

This would include deregulating the insurance market and allowing individuals to buy insurance across state lines.

ABC News asked if the advisers could name one thing in the Mayor’s proposal that might at all upset the health insurance or pharmaceutical industries.

"I don’t think any one group will like all of it or dislike all of it," Goldsmith said, adding that "overall it will be greeted quite favorably by those who have to buy the product."

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