Kildee: Join Me For A Civil Discussion On Health Care Reform
"Choices regarding health care are some of the most personal decisions we make. The ability to choose one's doctor and decide on a course of treatment with one's physician is an undeniable American right, and so is access to quality affordable health care. As Congress works towards comprehensive health care reform, the debate in our country has become intense. While people on both sides of this issue are very passionate, we must always be respectful of one another and focus on having a constructive dialogue on the merits of the bill. I want to take this opportunity to explain why I am supporting this legislation and to address some of the myths and confusion surrounding this health care reform.
As a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, one of the three Committees of jurisdiction, I spent 20 hours straight debating this bill with my colleagues and reading it line-by-line and section-by-section. As a result, I can tell you what is and is not included in this legislation.
I have heard claims that this legislation will force the sick or elderly to be euthanized. Nowhere in this legislation does it suggest that anyone will be euthanized. I am completely morally and legally opposed to euthanasia and I would never support a bill that contained such a provision. What is included in this legislation is a provision to make it easier for people to create a living will. This allows individuals, if they so choose, to communicate what kind of medical treatment they would like to receive in the event they are unable to speak for themselves.
There also has been a lot of confusion about the public option. This would be a government run plan, much like Medicare, and would be one of many options available to the uninsured and small businesses employees. This system is based on the health insurance choices of Members of Congress and their employees, and would go into effect in 2012. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that just over three percent of Americans would choose the public option, with most people opting for one of the privately run choices. This would allow the public option to compete with private plans to drive down costs, but would in no way put private companies out of business. As the House bill currently stands, after the first two years these options would be made available to everyone. Americans could keep their current insurance if they want and the public option would remain simply that, one insurance option among many from which people could choose. It would not be forced on anyone and would not drive private insurers out of business.
While we may respectfully disagree on some of the provisions in this bill, most of us can agree that the problems in our health care system can no longer be ignored. Families across the country are seeing their premiums skyrocket, more and more people are going without, and others cannot get coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This leads many people to wait until an emergency to seek medical treatment, turning what could have been a simple doctor's visit into a costly trip to the E.R. When people cannot pay these bills, the American taxpayer is charged. Medical providers raise the prices of services to cover these uncompensated costs, thereby increasing costs for everyone and driving up health insurance premiums. In 2008, health care providers in our district provided $157 million worth of this uncompensated care. To address this issue, the House health care reform bill increases competition between insurers, thereby reducing costs. This will help the nearly 50 million uninsured Americans across the country -- 71,000 of whom live in Michigan's 5th district -- access health care. It also prevents insurers from denying or dropping coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This will allow these people to be treated in the early stages of their condition at a doctor's office, rather than going to the emergency room after their condition has progressed. This will save money for the patient, the taxpayer and the medical providers, ultimately bringing down health care costs for everyone.
Once again, since human life is precious, this is a sensitive issue that must be treated with respect and delicacy. But it is important not to let emotion or the rhetoric of either side decide how we fix our health care system. That is why I urge you to join me for a civil discussion on the facts of this bill during my upcoming telephone town hall on September 9 at 8 p.m. I am committed to working on this health reform to ensure it is done right and I ask you to join me in this important work for our country. "