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Public Statements

Putnam Statement Regarding Health Care Reform

Statement

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Date:
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Congressman Adam Putnam made the following statement to the official Congressional Record concerning tonight's vote on health care reform legislation:

Madame Speaker.

At the end of this term, I will have served in Congress for 10 years. I have had the privilege of participating in countless debates -- from war resolutions and trade policies to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks -- and working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle on some of America's greatest challenges.

We now stand on the floor of the House of Representatives to address one of today's greatest challenges in America -- health care reform. While this may be one of the more complicated issues we are faced with, the [goals] consequences -- in my mind -- are simple. We need to lower the cost of health care, while expanding health care coverage to more individuals. To accomplish this, I have advocated for policies like allowing small businesses to pool together and form association health plans, providing incentives for wellness programs and healthy life decisions, making reforms to our medical malpractice laws, and allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines. These policies are far-reaching, free-market based, and -- most of all -- don't require new government bureaucracies. Unfortunately, they all lost out to a partisan process of backroom deals that have tainted this proposal and further undermined the already low esteem in which the people we serve hold this institution.

Ever since the first 2,000 page health care bill was dropped on my desk just prior to the vote in November, I have listened to Floridians -- from parents and patients to doctors and seniors -- who understand that health care is just too dynamic to be taken over by a stale, cold federal government. They understand that we don't need to model our health care system on those systems across the globe who envy our quality of care, technology, and research investment. We don't need some agency to make decisions about our family's health care that has the efficiency of FEMA and the compassion of the drivers' license office. While we do have some aspects of our system that need to be improved, Floridians understand we should address them in a manner that actually solves the problem -- not having government destroy the innovation that comes from competition. Madam Speaker, they understand this, but Congress clearly doesn't.

The misguided policies we are voting on today are sadly coupled with the broken process they followed to get here. The measure we will vote on hasn't seen a single legislative committee, bi-partisan negotiation, or open process. Like anything with such an impact to the American people, this legislation deserves the scrutiny of the legislative process and the challenges that may come with amendments and committee debate. In short, this measure deserves a public vetting to arrive at the best possible outcome.

Had our founders seen the process this health care debate has taken, they simply would not have recognized it as the House of Representatives they envisioned. Would they have supported a process that didn't even include the committees responsible for health care? Would they have appreciated gimmicks that only budget analysts would understand in order to ensure a certain overall cost? Could they explain why a student loan bill was mysteriously attached to a massive health care reform proposal or why Congress decided to give one state a better deal than the rest of the country? Could they have ever imagined a Congress that is only willing to dedicate two hours of debate to a measure that spends $1 trillion?

Our schoolchildren are taught the way an idea becomes law and that as an elected Representative, I have the ability to amend this legislation on their behalf and spend days debating every provision that may have been included. They know they deserve a process that allows their representative to have a seat at the drafting table, not one where the bill is dropped on his desk just prior to a vote.

Even the most casual observer of this process and this bill's journey would find it unrecognizable from our most basic understanding of civics and representative democracy.

When the outcome of this vote became more important than the product itself, taxpayers lost. When the legislative process became an afterthought to salvaging a presidency, taxpayers lost. When debate was sacrificed for special deals, taxpayers lost.

Madame Speaker, this process is a disservice and has birthed a flawed product that restrains patient freedom and choice, burdens future generations with debt, undermines a competitive business model for medicine and, most tragically, will reduce the most innovative diagnostics and treatment on Earth to the lowest common bureaucratic denominator.

Time and again, the government proves inefficient and obsolete in changing times with rapidly emerging technologies. In medicine, that is a recipe for obsolescence, archaic approaches, and delayed treatments that costs lives and weakens the human condition.

While I do not hold up the current health care model as perfect -- I do observe the quality of the treatment options, the daily miracles made possible by world-class technology guided by well-trained health care professionals, and the range of options in large and small towns alike as evidence that the American model is far superior to the cumbersome, one-size-fits-all models that are found in nations like Canada and the UK whose citizens frequently flee to our nation to find the quality care they believe is not available in their own countries.

Tonight's vote against this bill is cast on behalf of patients and doctors, taxpayers and citizens who value innovation, competition, and the spirit of the individual that has created the American experience and built this great nation into the envy of the world.

While we can and must do more to improve access and affordability, we shouldn't sacrifice all we are as a nation for the security of mediocre medicine, bureaucratically administered.


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