HELENA - The government's role in overhauling the American health care system should be "mostly informational," the chairman of the Montana Republican Party told reporters today.
"I'm a small government type person," said Will Deschamps, chairman of the Montana Republican Party, in a conference call paid for by the Republican National Committee. "People don't like to be mandated about how to live their lives. That's why folks left Europe, to come over here to have some freedoms they thought were important to them."
Deschamps made his remarks just hours before President Barack Obama was to touch down in Belgrade for a town hall meeting about ongoing congressional efforts to provide health insurance for all Americans.
Those efforts have taken center stage in Washington, D.C., where Montana's Democratic Sen. Max Baucus is playing a leading role. A final plan has not emerged, although the main discussions involve the government requiring citizens to buy health insurance from private companies, but offering subsidies to families whose income falls below a certain level to help pay for that coverage.
Deschamps said the current system does have problems, but he didn't think the federal government ought to be the one trying to fix it. Asked what role central government should play in health care changes, Deschamps said he "didn't have a hard and fast answer."
He said the government should try other means to change health care.
"Maybe they should spend their time in the (public relations) end of it," he said. "They should promote healthy living."
Some people can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, he said, particularly young people who don't think they'll get sick.
"There ought to be some way to encourage them to buy health insurance without government interference," he said.
That would lower premiums for everyone else.
Deschamps also said changes to the laws governing how people sue their doctors and how much money they get if they win might bring down health care costs.
Health care costs grew by 6.1 percent in 2007, according to information from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. A December 2007 law article published by the Northwestern University School of Law concluded that such legal changes might reduce health care costs by 2 percent for certain populations.