Pawlenty Assails Government-Run Health Care In N.H. Trip

The Associated Press/Bloomberg: Pawlenty Faces Skeptical Doctors At NH Hospital
Likely presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty urged a roomful of skeptical doctors (in Lebanon, N.H.) Friday to be leaders rather than be dragged into what he sees as the future of health care -- giving consumers more information and choices and rewarding providers for quality over volume. ... Using Medicare and Medicaid as examples, he criticized the notion that government-run health care will produce efficiency and said the answer lies in empowering consumers. "I don't like movements toward big government bureaucracies, particularly when we see the track record of the two we have," said Pawlenty, a Republican. "They're well-intentioned, but inevitably they become slow-moving, lacking in entrepreneurial qualities, lacking in flexibility, financially quite inefficient and ultimately insolvent. We need a different model." (Dr. Jay Buckey), a Democrat, faulted Pawlenty for mentioning the growing cost of Medicare without pointing out that the program covers the sickest population, and one that is growing. And he pointed out that President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law calls for slowing the growth of Medicare spending(Ramer, 3/11).

Minnesota Public Radio: Pawlenty Talks Health Care In New Hampshire
Pawlenty called for giving consumers more control over subsidized health care spending. He said if consumers were able to make choices based on cost and quality of care, people would get better treatment at a lower cost. ... Pawlenty cited health savings accounts as an example of market forces and consumer choice at work, and he said Minnesota leads the nation in the percentage of residents who have them. Some in the audience questioned whether Americans are capable of directing their own health care and suggested people are more likely to get the care they need under single-payer models than they are directing their own health care (Zdechlik, 3/11).

MinnPost: Pawlenty Contrasts His Health Care Plan With Others But Sidesteps Romney-Plan Politics
Pawlenty defended his market-based prescription for U.S. health care and opposition to insurance coverage mandates in a room full of some supporters but many who were skeptical. Dr. Ken Dolkart, a geriatrics physician, told Pawlenty that his let-the-market-decide analogies might work for Fords and Cadillacs, but not for health care for those without coverage. Citing a study about appendicitis hospital rates, Dolkart told Pawlenty that those without insurance coverage were most likely to wind up in the emergency room. Those with a high deductible plan were likely to have to head to the ER, too, as a result of waiting too long because they're worried about the cost. Decisions about what medical care to seek, Dolkart said, aren't being made in the physician's office so much as they are in the household. And without universal coverage, he worried that people would make economic decisions that put their health in immediate jeopardy. Pawlenty, in closing the session, thanked Dolkart for his comments but said they'd have to agree to disagree (Wallbank, 3/11).

Politico: T-Paw Steers Clear Of Romneycare Critique
Tim Pawlenty on Friday repeatedly refused to attack – or even touch — Mitt Romney’s health care overhaul in Massachusetts. "I know every time you see me you ask me some variations of these questions, trying to get me to contrast with Massachusetts," Pawlenty told reporters after a speech at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "But I’ll just tell you what I did and I believe in and leave the analysis regarding Massachusetts to someone else." While Pawlenty said he was a "big proponent for allowing states to have a lot of leeway," he steered clear of the individual mandate enacted by Romney (Marr,3/11).

Boston Globe: Pawlenty Will Criticize Healthcare Law, But Not The Mass. Model Or Romney
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty strongly opposes requiring citizens to buy health insurance, which is a core aspect of both the Democrats' federal coverage law and the Massachusetts healthcare program signed by former Governor Mitt Romney. But ask Pawlenty whether he specifically opposes the so-called "individual mandate" in Massachusetts, or if he thinks it was a mistake for Romney to adopt it, and he balks. He said he would rather not answer than generate more controversy within the possible GOP presidential primary field. In that respect, he is different than Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour, potential Republican candidates who have openly and specifically criticized "RomneyCare" (Rowland, 3/11).

The Hill: Pawlenty Draws Contrasts On Healthcare; Won't Criticize Romney
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is playing nice in New Hampshire, refusing to directly criticize former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Friday over the healthcare plan he championed as Bay State governor. During a Friday appearance in the first-in-the-nation primary state, Pawlenty had the chance to go after his likely 2012 rival on healthcare, but would say only that he took "a different approach" than the one Romney did in Massachusetts (D'April, 3/11).

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