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Ms. BUERKLE. Mr. Speaker, it is good to be here. I thank the distinguished gentleman, my colleague from Georgia. I am very honored to be here to speak about health care in the United States of America.
As was said, I am a registered nurse. I have been a registered nurse since 1972, a time in our Nation's health history where the physician and the patient had a relationship, and the government had not injected itself into that relationship. And then after awhile, I went into law. And for the last 13 years, Mr. Speaker, I have been a health care attorney for a large teaching hospital in upstate New York, for the last 13 years.
What we did in that hospital and in my role as an assistant attorney general, we look at money, money that was owed to the State of New York. So I had a very up close and personal look at the complexity of health care in our country today.
I contend that this bill, this piece of legislation that does anything but reform health care, will only increase the complexity of health care in this country. It will only make it more complicated. It will once again put the government right in the middle of the patient-physician relationship. I contend that is not what the United States of America is about. We need to let the free market play here in our health care system.
I have spoken in my district to many, many people. I have done all kinds of talks, but there is nothing more up close and personal and of great concern to me than the health care system in our country. It is an issue that affects every American in one way, shape or form. This health care bill does not improve the health care system in this country.
I came to Washington with a wide range of goals as a freshman, as my colleague has mentioned, but nothing more important to me than repealing this health care bill; this 2,000-plus-page bill that does anything but reform health care. It adds to the complexity of an already complex system. It puts the government in places where it shouldn't be, and it doesn't protect that patient-physician relationship.
Last week when I was in the district, I had my very first health care advisory council meeting. I spoke with a group of physicians, a group of health care providers, hospital administrators, and we had a conversation. I said to them: What are your concerns as health care providers? You are on the front line. What can we do down in Washington on health care to make the delivery system better and more affordable?
They looked at me, and interestingly enough, all of the people on the front lines came up with different solutions because, as you can imagine, doctors and health care providers are good at diagnosing. The question is now about the solution. What are we going to do for health care in this country?
We are here tonight to say this bill is the wrong bill for this country, but we are not willing to leave it go at that. We understand that true health care reform will include medical malpractice reform. We need tort reform in this country. We need to increase the use of health savings accounts. We need to make insurance portable so when a person loses their job, they don't necessarily lose their health care coverage. We need to allow for the purchase of health care across State lines. We need to put the patient back in the center of health care. And I contend that this health care bill does not do that.
So as we sat around, I said to my group of health care advisors, I said to them, What is it that concerns you most regarding health care in this country? The first thing was our health care, this health care bill that was just passed. And when you get into why does it concern you, because it adds so many layers of bureaucracy and regulations to an already ladened bureaucracy, already an industry and system that is ladened with regulations. If you talk to a hospital or a physician, the regulations and the impediments they have to access that patient for health care are incredible.
So the concern with this bill is it adds so many more layers. It takes this health care bill, and one of the biggest problems with this health care bill is that it takes a piece of legislation and it hands it off to the regulators. Then, with the regulators, they are left to interpret and to deal with and come up with regulations that affect our health care providers.
Beyond that, they recognize the need for tort reform. We need medical malpractice liability reform. If we are going to talk about reducing the cost of health care, we must consider that. And then they talked about the increased regulations on the health care profession.
What we all agreed upon in that meeting was that the health care in this country, it is a good health care system. We have good health care. The quality of health care is not the issue. The issue is the system of health care. And this bill that was passed in 2010 does nothing to make that health care system better. It only
complicates it. It only ladens it with more regulations and once again puts the government back in between the physician and the patient relationship.
I thank my colleague who has an esteemed history of being a medical provider in the health care industry. He understands these issues. He understands what good health care is and what a good health care system would look like. And so I commend him and thank him for this opportunity to speak.
I think what we need to do in Washington is to repeal this health care bill. We need to put our heads together collectively and talk to the professionals, talk to the health care providers, talk to the patients, and get together and come up with a systemic plan that will reduce the cost of health care, help to improve access to health care, and not affect the quality of the wonderful health care that the United States of America offers.
In my years in the attorney general's office representing a large teaching hospital, I know how many people wanted to come to this country for health care--I know people from Canada and from Europe--because they knew they had access to good, quality care. They knew they wouldn't have a 6- or 9-month wait. I think with this system, if we allow it to go on, this health care bill, we will see those 6- and 9-month waits while patients are waiting for the government to make a decision about their health care access.
So we need to repeal this bill. We need to enact true health care reform so we can improve access, we can reduce the cost of health care, and we can maintain the fine quality of health care in this system.
I thank my colleague.
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