MSAs: Forbes Urges Consumer-Driven Health Care
Speaking yesterday "at a conference on the future of employer-provided health benefits," publisher and likely presidential candidate Steve Forbes said the problems facing the nation's health care system can only be solved by putting "power back in patients' hands," the Arizona Republic reports. Forbes told the Phoenix, AZ, audience that the current system takes a "top-down management approach," an approach he said "will be increasingly hostile to innovation." Touting a free-market system as the better alternative, Forbes "advocated Medical Savings Accounts as an answer, saying they put patients in charge of their own health care resources." Forbes noted that his company offers MSAs to employees. Seven years after the option was made available, Forbes said health care expenses at his company "are no higher ... and no employees have been forced into managed care." He urged Congress to "remove the cap that limits tax-deductible MSAs to companies with 50 or fewer employees," and he said there "should be no restrictions on the amount of deductibles or the number of policies that can be written" (Larson, 9/22).
In his bid for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination, Forbes said "he would sign a law banning abortion before he signed a bill introducing a flat income tax." The Washington Post reported that Forbes "adopted the tough abortion stance" during a speech at the Christian Coalition's "Road to Victory" conference last weekend. During his speech, Forbes asserted his belief that "life begins at conception and ends only at natural death." Forbes did not make abortion a prominent issue during his 1996 primary campaign, and consequently did not win the backing of religious conservatives, whose support is perceived as crucial for a White House win in 2000. The Post reported that conservative religious leaders are "seeking an early consensus on one presidential candidate to avoid what some strategists call 'getting Doled,' a reference" to 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, "who was not a favorite of many religious conservatives" (Edsell, 9/20).