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Dr. Coburn Votes Against Move Toward Government-Run Health Care

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician and author of one of the first health care reform bills introduced this year -- the Patients' Choice Act -- released the following statement tonight after voting against a procedural motion that will help Congress enact a massive, budget-busting government-run health care bill.

"This bill is the most reckless, irresponsible and dishonest piece of legislation I have seen in my time in Congress. I'm disappointed my colleagues voted for a bill that will bust the budget, increase taxes, coerce taxpayers into funding abortion, and grant politicians and bureaucrats the power to ration and deny medically-necessary care," Dr. Coburn said.

While many Senators who voted for this measure called it a harmless procedural vote, experts disagree. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, bills that pass procedural tests like the one tonight have a 97.6 percent chance of passing the Senate.

"The accounting tricks in this bill would make Bernie Madoff and Enron executives blush," Dr. Coburn said. "The bill's author, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), makes the outlandish claim that this bill ‘saves' money over ten years. However, he fails to inform the American people that benefits won't begin for four years while taxes will increase immediately. This would be like a mortgage banker demanding payments for four years before allowing a family to move into their new home. These gimmicks insult the intelligence of every American."

"Once implemented, the Reid bill will cost at least $2.5 trillion over ten years. Creating a costly new entitlement while we face the risk of a double-dip recession is the height of irresponsibility. Every major government-run health care program is broke or is headed for bankruptcy. Medicare alone faces a long-term debt of $89.3 trillion, which is about six times the size of our entire economy," Dr. Coburn said. "History shows that great nations collapse over loose fiscal policy, not external threats. The scope of our debt and our reliance on borrowing from potential adversaries, such a China, is a serious national security threat to the United States. This bill will make us more vulnerable and more dependent on excessive and unsustainable borrowing."

"The bill's mandate that all Americans must buy insurance is an unconstitutional and unworkable assault on individual liberty and personal responsibility. If this bill passes millions of younger, healthy Americans will saves thousands of dollars every year by dropping coverage until they get sick. The low penalties of not buying coverage in the bill combined with assurances that no one can be denied coverage will push younger and healthier Americans out of the system, leaving older Americans to endure skyrocketing costs," Dr. Coburn said, noting that eleven studies from government and private sources show health care premiums will increase faster because of the policies in the Reid bill.

"The Reid bill also takes a historic step toward forcing every American taxpayer to finance abortion. The bill gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to include elective abortions in the government-run and taxpayer-funded ‘public option,' which is a radical departure from the federal government's current policy of not funding abortion with public funds," Dr. Coburn said.

"Sadly, this bill's lack of respect for life doesn't end with coercing public funding for abortion. The bill gives bureaucrats the ability to deny coverage on the basis of cost, not care. For instance, the bill specifically authorizes the Secretary of HHS to deny payments for prevention services the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against. This is the same task force that recently suggested women under 50 should not receive annual mammograms. As a practicing physician, such decisions should be made by a doctor and her physician, not a politician or bureaucrat in Washington," Dr. Coburn said.

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