U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties) released the following statement on President Barack Obama's address to Congress this evening:
"President Obama and I agree that health care needs reform. We disagree how to get there.
"President Obama actually advocates the radical shift' that he acknowledged tonight would disrupt the health care most people currently have.' In an attempt to fix the parts of the system that are broken, he would break what works.
"The president reiterated tonight that nothing in his plan requires you to change what you have.' However, the way the plan is written, most, if not all, Americans will be forced from their current coverage.
"Private insurance cannot compete with taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, particularly when the bill as introduced in the House forbids insurance companies from providing new policies after a nationwide Health Insurance Exchange is created by the federal government.
"The exception to this rule is insurance provided through employers, but only for a five-year grace period, and the bill places so many requirements and costs on businesses that it is unlikely employers will be able to afford to offer private insurance beyond that. Then, the only option will be government-run health care.
"Those are not scare tactics. Those are facts.
"It is also a fact that a new Peter G. Peterson Foundation study puts the 20-year cost of the President's health care plan at $2 trillion. Eliminating waste and fraud in Medicare, which I have been a vocal advocate of for many years, could save Medicare, which is near bankruptcy, but it will not absorb a $2 trillion public health care plan.
"We need health care reform that lowers costs, not hides higher costs through government deficits or higher taxes. We need health care reform that covers the working poor and those with pre-existing conditions, but not at the cost of destroying health insurance for the 80 percent who are now covered.
"Health care reform that I support would:
"Allow small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance for employees and use their combined bargaining power to negotiate better health benefits at lower prices.
"Reform medical liability laws to discourage unnecessary and frivolous lawsuits, which only drive up prices for everyone and force doctors to practice defensive medicine, something the president said tonight he supports.
"Remove unnecessary regulations that prevent health insurance companies from operating across state lines--which would provide the competition President Obama touted this evening without creating government-run health care.
"Establishes high-risk pools to help people with pre-existing conditions find affordable insurance.
"There are reform measures all sides agree on and I ask President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to work on real bipartisan legislation that fixes what is broken and leaves alone what works."