Ensuring Quality Healthcare - Congressman Roskam's Weekly Column
Universal health care is the leading buzzword on Capitol Hill these days. While the rhetoric sounds admirable, the reality is anything but. Many patriotic, compassionate Americans support ensuring access to quality care for everyone. Unfortunately, two important elements are consistently left out of the debate. Quality and cost must be major considerations as we consider how best to move forward.
Special interests in Washington are constantly calling for the creation of a health care system like Canada's, or the U.K.'s. I don't know about you, but I am not interested in waiting two years for essential surgery, as is common under Canada's system. In the U.S., most procedures can be scheduled and completed in a matter of days. These "universal" systems have no control mechanism in place to ensure that patients have access to timely, quality care.
In addition to problems of quality, universal access proposals struggle with prohibitive costs. Health spending is one of the largest spending areas in the federal government, costing almost $700 billion in 2006 alone. Also, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently announced, for every 100 children who enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, up to 50 left private health insurance plans in favor of the federal government coverage. Again, an attempt to expand access to care has damaging unintended consequences. In this case, taxpayers in my Congressional district are forced to foot the bill to support families that already had access to private health care coverage.
While ensuring access to health care for all is crucial, I believe we can do better. I am committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure quality, competition, and cost remain a part of the broader proposal of expanding access to health care. Working together to overcome these obstacles, we could do some really amazing things in the health care field.