Meaningful Health Care Reform
Over a month after the prescribed deadline on health care reform, the Majority in Congress and the Administration are scrambling to pick up the pieces and patch together their flawed plan to establish government-run health care - an approach that has been roundly and loudly rejected by many Americans. The political stakes are high, but it's my hope that those in Washington will do the right thing and put the needs of American citizens first, above Party-line interests, by working toward meaningful health care reform that will benefit everyday Americans.
I've heard from countless constituents, most of them deeply (and rightly) concerned about a government takeover of health care. We can all agree that our nation needs health care reform -- we have some of the best doctors and the best medical care available in the world, yet patients are being denied insurance coverage because of preexisting and unavoidable illnesses, and health care costs continue to rise.
Yet the current proposal misses the mark, compromising quality of care and ignoring crucial savings to taxpayers. Billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse plague government-run health care programs already. A positive step would be shoring up the Medicare program that provides valuable services to thousands of local seniors, instead of pushing a plan that cuts Medicare programs and likely increases Medicare prescription drug premiums for seniors over 20% in coming years (according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office).
Inefficiencies must be addressed before Congress embarks on yet another massive expansion of entitlement spending. Savings can also be found by enacting medical liability reform that lessens the burdensome threat of litigation and keeps physicians and specialists in their practices in Riverside County and across the country.
Additionally, our hospitals are already receiving unacceptably low payments from existing federal entitlement programs. These programs have been operating on life support for years. In 2017, the Medicare fund that pays hospitals will be depleted, and it's an alarming fact that last year, for the first time, Medicare itself ran a deficit.
These problems can and must addressed by Congress in a bipartisan and productive way.
So far, however, the Majority in Congress has been anything but bipartisan in its effort to muscle through a behemoth plan that completely re-invents our health care system and adds layers of bureaucracy and government intrusion (including 53 government agencies, programs and commissions). Current proposals carry an astronomical price tag that will inevitably raise our taxes and our national deficit, which has already reached an unprecedented $11.8 trillion.
The current House plan would compromise people's existing coverage, forcing millions of Americans into a government-run health program, according to an independent study. It would also tax individuals and small businesses not purchasing bureaucrat-approved health coverage, undercut private insurance by paying physicians at below-cost rates, and cut Medicare Advantage, causing millions of seniors to lose their coverage.
Bipartisan principles have already been brought forward that represent essential components of health care reform, including incentivizing individual health insurance coverage, implementing public health and preventive medicine initiatives and reforming and improving current tax exclusions that support health coverage and portability.
Congress must consider these principles and craft a bill that sharpens the rules health insurance companies play by, adds meaningful tort reform that protects doctors from frivolous litigation, allows small businesses to pool together to offer quality care at a better price, and adds transparency to health coverage in a way that encourages patients and doctors to make informed decisions regarding treatment. As the daughter and granddaughter of physicians, I have long recognized the value of protecting patient-doctor relationship.
Health care affects every American and over 1/5 our domestic economy; it's far too important for politics to get in the way of good policy.
The answer to reform isn't in a one-size-fits-all government-run health care plan. The answer lies in real bipartisan reform that corrects our current flaws while respecting the free-market ingenuity that has made our health care system the greatest in the world.