Op-Ed: Commonsense Changes That Should Be Included In Health Care Reform
While we can all agree that our current health care system is flawed there are many different ideas about how to fix it. Democratic Leaders in Congress have introduced and rushed through committee, the America's Affordable Health Choices Act. This one-size fits all proposal would steer the country toward a government-run health care system likely marked by little choice and long lines. I oppose this bill and the Democrat Leadership's mad rush to ram the bill through with no opportunity for alternative ideas. Even commonsense amendments to this bill offered by House Republicans during the committee consideration were rejected by the Democratic Chairmen of the three committees with jurisdiction over the health care reform legislation.
For instance, Congressman Dean Heller offered an amendment during the Ways and Means Committee mark-up that would have required Members of Congress to enroll immediately in the government-run health plan that would be established by this legislation. After all, if Members of Congress are convinced that the public, government-run option will deliver the same quality of care as their current health insurance plans, then they should be willing to enroll in the public option automatically. Congress should not ask the American people to make sacrifices they are not willing to make themselves. But that is exactly what is happening Congressman Heller's amendment was defeated.
Congressman Heller also offered another commonsense amendment. This one would have prevented taxpayer-funded health benefits from going to illegal immigrants. Any health care reform legislation that Congress considers must ensure that taxpayers are not responsible for paying for health care provided to individuals who are residing in the United States illegally but apparently the Democrats disagree. This sensible amendment was also defeated in the Ways and Means Committee.
Congressman Buck McKeon offered an amendment in the Education and Labor Committee that would modify the current Democratic bill to allow for the creation of Association Health Plans, known as AHPs. AHPs are an effective mechanism to extend coverage among the working uninsured by reducing the barriers that small employers currently face in providing coverage for their employees. AHPs are intended to increase incentives for employers to band together to purchase insurance coverage at lower rates for their employees. The way to revitalize our struggling American economy is by ensuring the stability of America's small businesses and reducing the burden of increasing health care costs is a big part of that. Once again, this reasonable amendment was defeated.
These are just a few of the commonsense changes that House Republicans offered to improve the current health care reform bill, which is defined by federal regulation, mandates, a myriad of new big government programs, and a significant increase in federal spending. For Congress to accomplish meaningful health care reform we must work in a bipartisan fashion. I believe if House Republicans are not shut out of the legislative process and are instead allowed to offer our ideas we can craft a health care reform bill that the American people want -- one that would make health care more affordable, reduce the number of uninsured, increase quality, and preserve consumer choices.