As the American people struggle to make ends meet, too many also live with the challenge of affording basic health care for themselves and their families. Any time a child or a parent goes without the care they need, it is a personal crisis for that family. America needs health care reform that improves health care for all Americans, but the current proposal by Democrats would have devastating consequences for families and small businesses. I have been listening to constituents across the district about health care, consulting with doctors and other medical professionals, and studying the details of health care reform to come up with some basic reform principals. The fundamental components of any reform plan must preserve patient choice and control costs.
THE PROPOSED PUBLIC PLAN EQUATES TO FEWER CHOICES, HIGHER COSTS
The Democrats' plan would come at a high cost, increasing the deficit which has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in history. Proponents claim that healthcare reform is critical to controlling deficit spending, but their plans end up costing taxpayers more. Consider the following consequences of the Democrats' plan:
X Underpays doctors and hospitals for their services -- resulting in higher costs for patients and employers;
X Undermines private coverage with the creation of a public plan that is likely to drive private insurers out of the health care market;
X Reshapes the medical industry -- terminating more than 5 million jobs, including 1 million small business jobs;
X Imposes an 8% payroll tax for each worker, which will cause more employers -- especially small businesses -- to stop offering private insurance, and
X Cuts more than $150 billion in Medicare Part D, causing millions of seniors to lose their current coverage.
A COUPLE OF FACTS GET LOST IN THE DEBATE OVER HEALTH CARE REFORM:
While there are many problems in the health care system, the quality of care provided in America is the best in the world, and proposed solutions risk rationing that care in order to finance government-run health insurance. Though close to fifty million Americans lack health insurance, over half of that population fits into one of these groups:
a. People making over $75,000 or more a year who choose not to purchase insurance
b. People already eligible for public plans like CHIP and Medicaid
c. Illegal immigrants who broke the law by entering our country
The current plan will cost $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, on top of the trillions of dollars that the government already spends on health care. When Medicare was created it counted for about 1.75% of the federal budget; today it has swelled to over 12%. Well intended government programs inevitably cost more than proponents advertise. We need to have an honest debate about any proposed plan.
I BELIEVE HEALTH CARE REFORM MUST ACHIEVE THE FOLLOWING
Protect Americans from being forced into a new government health care plan that could limit choice of doctors and medical treatments;
Make sure that those who like their health care coverage can keep it, and give all citizens the freedom to choose the health plan that best meets their needs;
Ensure that medical decisions are made by patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats;
Improve Americans' lives through effective prevention, wellness, and disease management programs, while developing new treatments and cures for life-threatening diseases;
Level the tax playing field and provide incentives to make coverage affordable;
Expand pooling opportunities to make coverage more affordable and portable.
Health care reform should not drive more Americans to government-run plans, should not cause waiting lists and the rationing of care, and should not continue to insulate consumers from the true cost of treatments and procedures.
Americans need a plan that will reduce costs, expand access and increase the quality of care for all citizens. Washington should not increase its role in deciding what care patients receive. It should create a more vibrant, private marketplace for insurance and create the right tax incentives to make coverage more affordable.
I voted in opposition to the Democrats' health care bill, H.R. 3962. It narrowly passed the House on November 7 by a vote of 220 to 215, with all Republicans but one opposing, and 39 concerned Democrats opposing as well. H.R. 3962 is a generation killer for our children and grandchildren.
The Republican substitute, which I support and voted for, would reduce the deficit, reduce health insurance premiums by up to ten percent, allow states to establish interstate compacts, increase fraud prevention, and curb medical malpractice lawsuits. Unfortunately, our bill was voted down in the House by a vote of 176 to 258 on November 7, and the Democrats' bill prevailed.
Since that time, the Senate narrowly passed their Democratic health care bill on Christmas Eve on a strictly party-line vote. Currently, a small group of Democratic Senators and Representatives have begun negotiating a final health package, which unfortunately is occurring behind closed doors. I, along with a united Republican Caucus, have expressed our strong support to a request by C-SPAN that these negotiations be open to the public through media coverage.
Health care reform is too important, affects too much of our economy, and touches too many lives to be written in secret by a select few Democrats. The American people deserve openness, transparency and accountability -- not more secret partisan deals. Negotiations need to include all parties and need to be televised and open to the press. The American people then need sufficient time to review the final bill and make their feelings known to their elected officials before a final vote in Congress.
Please know that I will continue to be an advocate for my constituents on this critically important legislation. I fought against the Democratic plan in the Energy and Commerce Committee and on the House Floor, and I will continue to oppose it through these final negotiations.
We need health care reform, but the Democrats' radical plan is not the prescription for reform that the American people want or deserve.