This morning, House Democrats held a press conference to unveil their health care reform bill, which they claim will expand coverage for all and decrease costs. Sounds good, but once you peel away the "feel good" rhetoric, there's nothing to be excited about. This 2,000-page bill includes a job-killing employer mandate, an individual mandate that requires Washington bureaucrats to define what kind of coverage is acceptable, burdensome tax increases, Medicare cuts, and a huge expansion of Medicaid that will break already strained state budgets.
You see, the Democrats are playing a game of bait and switch when they talk about the costs of this legislation. For instance, they say that costs will be kept under the arbitrary $900 billion cap that President Obama has requested. Well, they'll stay under the cap simply by expanding Medicaid eligibility. In other words, they'll be shifting the costs off one set of taxpayer-funded books to another set of taxpayer-funded books. And, don't forget: we just had to bail out those states in large part because their Medicaid budgets were bleeding them dry!
Social Security is broke, Medicare is broke, Medicaid is broke -- and all of them were created with the best intentions. But we have to face reality. Our deficit is at an all-time high. Our debt is nearing $12 TRILLION with no signs of slowing. We're on a crash course for financial ruin. This isn't conjecture, it's basic economics.
Republicans have put forth alternative after alternative taking a patient-centered approach -- not focused on government, focused on you -- that will keep costs down, but each and every one of them has fallen on deaf ears. They weren't even considered by Democrat leadership. Yesterday's Chicago Tribune did a great job highlighting several of these Republican alternatives that won't break the bank (a bank that's already bankrupt).
As the Tribune points out:
"Let insurers sell policies across state lines. That would loosen the strangling state-by-state regulations and unleash competition to drive premium prices down."
"Give people who buy insurance in the private market the same tax breaks as those who get it through employers. Now, employers that offer coverage get a tax break on the premiums they pay for employees. And employees don't pay taxes on the value of the coverage they receive. People who want to buy insurance in the individual market should get the same tax breaks. That would help millions of people acquire coverage." (That's what my Health Care Freedom of Choice Act does!)
"Expand the ability of small businesses, trade associations and other groups to set up insurance pools to offer coverage at more attractive rates."
"Control health costs in part by reining in the medical malpractice system that raises insurance premiums and forces doctors to order tests to protect themselves from lawsuits. Limiting certain kinds of damage awards would reduce spending on health care by about $11 billion in 2009, or about one-half of 1 percent, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. Think about that in human terms: Reform would save millions of patients the expense and trauma of unnecessary tests and procedures."
As this health care debate plays out, please don't fall for the rhetoric and take a closer look at what the Democrats' bill really means. If you do, you'll realize that it's a prescription for economic disaster.