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Op-Ed: The Way Ahead On Health Care


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On Tuesday, January 19th, America saw an upset of astounding proportions. Scott Brown's election victory in the Massachusetts Senate race changed the political landscape in many ways - most notably the future of the proposed government takeover of health care.

Brown's election changes the math in the Senate, bringing the number of Republican Senators to 41. Until that point, Senate Democrats held 60 seats - a supermajority which could defeat any filibuster attempt by Senate Republicans.

The bill had been moved on nearly party-line votes in both the Senate and the House. Without the luxury of a filibuster-proof majority, the controversial health care bill, which until last week's election was on a fast-track, now faces an uncertain future.

Some have called for an incremental approach to health care reform, or even scrapping the entire process and starting over. Let's be clear: the American people do not want a government takeover of health care. Jamming this legislation through would create even more animosity in an American public already expressing their displeasure with the lack of transparency and accountability coming out of Washington.

The House of Representatives should never function as a rubber stamp to the Senate, especially on such an important issue. The Senate bill runs more than 2,700 pages, cuts Medicare by $470 billion, adds $518 billion in new taxes, and $26 billion in new federal mandates imposed on the individual states - many of which are struggling with their own fiscal crises.

The idea of simply passing this bill with the hopes of fixing it at a later point would be the height of folly.

A vote of this magnitude should be a bipartisan effort, not negotiated in order to meet an arbitrary deadline. Rushing this measure - which spends money our nation doesn't have, opens the door for taxpayer-funded abortions, and leads the way for a one-size-fits-all rationing of care by putting Washington bureaucrats between patients and their doctors - is not good for our nation and is not good for Nebraska.

Simply put: this is not the way to go.

I hope the Majority party listens to the message from last Tuesday and works with Republicans on reasonable health care reforms.

Let me share once again a few commonsense measures I support. One way to lower the cost of health insurance without increasing the size of government is to let the American people purchase health insurance across state lines the same way we buy auto insurance. We also should look at reasonable medical malpractice reform which would focus on lowering costs. I also support enacting genuine legal reform which cuts down frivolous lawsuits, and passing bills which give small businesses the freedom to join together to buy health insurance at lower rates and to shop across state lines for insurance in order to find the best deal - similar to options already available to most large businesses and federal workers. I also support expanding health savings accounts to provide additional flexibility to small businesses.

The crystal ball is very cloudy when it comes to the next steps on health care. What is clear is this bill is not what Americans want and it is not what we need.

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