When President Obama said during his September 9 speech to Congress that "there remain some significant details to be ironed out," he wasn't kidding. Health care reform proposals have taken many changes since the first bill was introduced in the House on July 14, and it will likely change much more this fall.
The Senate Finance Committee has now unveiled another version of the bill that is significantly different from the proposals in the House. So it may be a long time before those differences are worked out and there is a final bill on which to vote.
Based on what I have been hearing from people across the 12th District of Florida, they are very skeptical that an expansion of the role of government can deliver what the administration promises and that it won't result in devastating tax increases or in a nightmare of bureaucratic red tape coming between patients and their doctors.
In addition, the inclusion of a "public option" component, a government insurance program, has me and a lot of other people concerned it could be the first step toward an eventual government takeover of the entire health insurance system.
Instead of the wholesale changes that have alarmed so many Americans this summer, I believe we could make significant improvements by adopting patient-centered approaches targeting specific problems in the current health care system. For instance, we can allow small businesses and individuals to join together in purchasing pools that would give them the same bargaining power as larger companies; we can extend the same tax benefits that large corporations enjoy to small businesses and individuals; we can allow interstate competition of insurers to help drive down rates; and we can work to help people who are eligible for existing government programs to get enrolled. To learn more about these ideas and the other issues before Congress, visit my Web site: www.adamputnam.house.gov
Health Care Reform Timeline
One of the factors that may have upset Americans the most in the early stages of the health reform debate was the great haste with which Congress seemed to be moving on a very complex (nearly 1,300 pages) and expensive (estimated at about $1 trillion) piece of legislation.
I believe all members of Congress must have adequate time to study legislation before it comes to the floor for a vote, and members of the public should have the opportunity to review legislation on-line before a vote is called.
Below is a timeline of the current health care reform legislation:
June 2, 2009: The president calls for Congress to pass health reform before members of Congress leave Washington for the District Work Period in August.
July 14, 2009: HR. 3200, (America's Health Choices Act) is introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Dingell of Michigan.
July 15, 2009: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passes its version of health care reform, the Affordable Health Choices Act (S-1679).
July 17, 2009: H.R. 3200 is passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 23 -- 18.
July 17, 2009: H.R. 3200 is passed out of the House Education and Labor Committee by a vote of 26 -- 22.
July 31, 2009: H.R. 3200 is passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 31 -- 28.
September 9, 2009: President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress and calls for immediate action on healthcare reform.
September 22, 2009: The Senate Finance Committee begins consideration of its version of health care reform, America's Healthy Futures Act.
Adam H. Putnam,
Member of Congress