U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), author of the Patients' Choice Act along with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Devin Nunes (R-CA), released the following statement tonight following President Obama's speech to Congress.
President Obama is right that Congress can agree to many of the goals he outlined tonight, and he was wise to acknowledge that those on the other side of aisle are equally committed to reform and have, in fact, produced ideas and solutions to achieve our common goals, Dr. Coburn said, noting that his bill includes a detailed proposal to set up state-based exchanges that empower individual consumers rather than government or insurance company bureaucrats.
However, the President still faces a fundamental challenge that the House and Senate health care bills as currently drafted do not line up with the plan he described tonight. If the President means what he says he needs to tell House and Senate Democrats to start over. Both the House and Senate bills do, in fact, set the stage for health care rationing, taxpayer-funded abortion and a government takeover of the health care system. Suggesting that these radical provisions are the result of scare tactics or spin, rather than the decisions of committee leaders, is counterproductive, Dr. Coburn said. Moreover, the American people are scared of a single-payer system because many key figures shaping the bill, including the President, have said a single-payer system is their preferred solution, and because independent groups have concluded that the public option could cause more than 100 million Americans to lose their private health insurance.
Yet, I take the President at his word that he is open to other ideas and I trust that he will do everything he can to force those writing the bills in the House and Senate to moderate their flawed bills. The final test will be the legislative product Congress produces over the next few weeks. Congress is not there yet. The outline of Senator Max Baucus' plan, for instance, still falls far short. Baucus' plan is not financially sustainable; it increases the role of government in health care; and does not contain a prohibition on the taxpayer funding of abortion, among other faults. Congress would be wise to start from scratch using the President's goals as an outline and craft a bipartisan bill the American people can support, Dr. Coburn said.