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Public Statements

Affordable Health Care

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, having traveled home this weekend and listened to so many back in my district concerned about the lack of solutions and the lack of effort on behalf of the United States Congress to get things done, I told them to take heart, that sometimes these things are difficult. And I added:

What if I tell you that we could deal with the rising cost of health care, we could bring down the national debt, and do it all by providing better quality, coordinated, and patient-centered care? That would be a good goal, they surmised.

And what if I told you we could do this without raising taxes or cutting Medicare benefits? And what if I told you that all of this notion began from the seeds of an idea that was an outgrowth from the Heritage Foundation,
piloted by a Republican Governor in a Democratic State, and that served as the basis of the Affordable Health Care Act, which is the law of the land?

The Affordable Health Care Act was not, in fact, what many Members on my side of the aisle support--a single-payer plan or a Medicare-for-all approach. But the law of the land is based on the Heritage Foundation idea and a Republican Governor from Massachusetts' formula for making sure that we could provide care to all of our citizens.

Although the health care act has become politically driven and charged, what the American people want to see is a Congress that's serious about solutions, solutions that are workable on behalf of the American people.

So let's start where we all agree. Paul Ryan has stated over again, very eloquently, that the rising cost of our debt and deficit is due to health care. I agree with him. When it comes to making sure that quality is improved for patients and care is coordinated more effectively, these are not Republican or Democratic ideas; these are American ideas, and why we need to move forward.

We have no less than 10 separate studies--studies from the Institute of Medicine, Reuters, the Commonwealth Fund, among others, that show that there is between $750 billion to $800 billion in waste, fraud, abuse, and lack of coordination within our health care system. Why, then, would we consider, with that kind of waste, taking any money out of Medicare or taking any money away from the beneficiaries who use that to pay for their hospitals, their medical devices, their pharmacists, their doctors?

What we need to do is face what the reality is. The reality is that the United States spends 18 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. We need to drive those costs down. By doing so, as businessmen will tell you, any model that is that inefficient, when the rest of the world is at 8 and 9 percent for health care and provides universal access to health care, and we're at 18 percent, with millions of our people still uninsured, if we drive that down and wring out all the inefficiencies, the waste in the system, then we can have health care for our constituents that's both coordinated and essential and drives down the national debt.

All we have to do is recognize a simple fact. Take the very best of our public health system. Take the very best of science, technology and innovation. And then take the very best of our private sector and its entrepreneurs and have this body come together in a coordinated fashion to bring that about.

It's happening without us. It's happening in the private sector, where leaders like Mark Bertolini from Aetna and others around this country are taking steps to drive down the cost of health care. They're doing it by coordinating care with the Mayo Clinic, with the Cleveland Clinic, with Sloan Kettering, with labs like Jackson Labs in my State. All of this is focused on making sure that we're going to have better outcomes for our people.

We can do this together. Let's work toward solutions. This Congress is capable of doing it.


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