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The Post-Standard - Commentary: Ann Marie Buerkle, Candidate for 25th Congressional District, Supports Tort Reform to Address Problems with Health Care


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By Ann Marie Buerkle

The state of the American health care industry is one of the most important issues we face as a nation. Health care affects everyone on a personal level, and I share the concerns of Upstate New Yorkers about the future of health care. As someone deeply involved with the medical community for over 30 years, I also care about the policy reform side of medicine.

I am a registered nurse and attorney and for the last 13 years served as an assistant attorney general representing Upstate Medical University. The medical establishment in Upstate New York does a wonderful job meeting the needs of the community, but today it faces some serious challenges that I believe need to be addressed.

The cost of medical malpractice insurance is crippling the medical profession. Many doctors won't even consider certain specialties because of the insurance costs involved. Texas and California have both initiated successful tort reform. We must consider reasonable tort reform measures, such as caps on awards for non-economic damages in liability cases.

Most Americans agree that the main problem facing the health care industry is not access but cost. By injecting competition into the health insurance system we can lower cost and keep the quality of our health care system. We can increase competition by making health insurance portable, allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines, and enhancing health savings accounts.

Prior to the passage of the health care law, many in Washington, including our current congressional representative, told us that the new law was going to address the issues of cost and accessibility. Most Americans agree we need health care reform, but when we realized that what was being promoted and ultimately passed was not about reforming health care but controlling and remaking healthcare as we know it, we rejected it.

Not only does the new health care law not provide true health care reform by addressing cost and accessibility, but it also creates an uncertain climate for the business community. Small businesses are in a holding pattern because they are worried about the increased tax burden, new regulations and additional debt engendered by the new health care bill.

For most of us in Central New York, the top concerns on our minds are jobs and the economy, health care reform and the growth of the federal government. Rep. Dan Maffei voted for the health care bill, for the ineffective and government-growing stimulus package and for cap and trade. What is he talking about now? Social Security.

I believe Maffei is talking about Social Security for three reasons. First, he is attempting to distract Central New Yorkers from examining his record and holding him accountable. Second, he is trying to scare senior citizens into believing that I am for reducing their benefits and raising the retirement age for them, charges that are absolutely false. Last, he truly doesn't understand what is on the hearts and minds of his constituents because he stopped listening to them from almost the moment he took the oath of office.

This Nov. 2, voters in New York's 25th District have a clear choice before them. They can vote again for Maffei and continue to allow him to vote lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and his fellow liberal Democrats. Or they can vote for me, someone who will vote for legislation that lowers taxes, shrinks the federal government and promotes true health care reform.

Ann Marie Buerkle is the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party candidate for the 25th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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