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GOP Doctor Caucus

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BUERKLE. And I thank you. Thank you for this time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise here tonight, along with my colleagues and other members of the Doctors Caucus, with such concern about what is being proposed in the health care bill and what is now law. I think we need to have a frank discussion with the seniors, Mr. Speaker, because of the demagoguing and the fearmongering that has gone on by proponents of this health care bill.

The fact is this health care bill, Mr. Speaker, is law. If it goes on without being interfered with, Medicare as we know it will be decimated. Five hundred billion dollars in cuts. That's going to affect the seniors. That's the law, and that's what's in place right now.

What we are proposing on the Republican side is that: it is a proposal. But it is a place to begin the discussion about how we are going to save Medicare. And we must say over and over again to our seniors this bill will not affect you if you are 55 years and older. You will retain the exact same benefits that you have now. But we as health care providers, we as those who went into health care as advocates because we care about people, we want to protect and preserve Medicare. That's what this proposal is that the Republicans put forth in the budget.

I think, Mr. Speaker, the irony in all of this is those who pushed this health care bill, organizations who pushed it on seniors and said this is a great bill, and vote for this health care bill, they now have waivers from the health care bill. They now are saying, well, it's good for all of you folks, but it's not so good for us. That should raise red flags.

So I am so pleased to be here tonight with my colleagues to be able to have this conversation with the seniors, Mr. Speaker. They need to know the truth. They need to know that we want to preserve Medicare. We want to make Medicare better for us, for our children, and their children. And that's what this is about.

I thank you for this time.

Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the gentlelady.

Who more than anyone than the Health Caucus and the physicians caucus wouldn't want to maintain Medicare? And one of my frustrations that I have had in this body is, how can you solve a problem if you can't discuss it? And right now we're not even able to discuss in a logical way how we reform Medicare. And those Medicare changes, we've only mentioned a few of them I might add. There are many others in here. In 2012, that will be just next year, there will be Medicare cuts to dialysis treatment. Medicare cuts to hospice begin in 2012. And on and on.

And it's one thing to have a problem. It's quite another to not even be able to discuss the problem. So let's just summarize it briefly here, and then I will yield to you that are still here. We had a problem in this country with health care costing too much and a group of people that couldn't have access to care and a liability crisis. We did nothing with this ObamaCare bill to curb the costs.

How we helped pay for the Affordable Care Act is we took money out of Medicare. And to control spiraling Medicare costs, we set up a board, this bill set up--not we, but this bill set up a board called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Most people, including many physician friends of mine, don't have any idea what this is. It is a very bad idea. It's not a good idea in England, where it's being used. That's where the group that wrote this bill got it.

And you know why they want this? Why the people that signed this, the Senate and others? Because they don't have to be accountable. They can blame somebody else when needed care isn't given. Oh, it isn't my fault. This board did it. Well, it is our fault. If we give up that right, it's our fault if those cuts occur to our seniors and we cannot provide the care that they need.

So why we are having this discussion is we have got a budget problem. We have got a $1.6 trillion budget deficit in this country we have to close. And how do we do that? We look forward and see where are the costs going forward? As I mentioned, when the President of the United States is 65 years of age, 15 years from now, four things will take up every tax dollar that we take in. So it's mandatory that we begin now solving this problem.

I think the plan is a great plan, the Ryan plan. It allows people to plan. It also, I believe, will allow you more choices. And I believe that that's exactly what the American people want in health care, is not someone up here in Washington making those choices for us and our

patients, but the patients and the doctors making those choices.

I will yield to the gentleman, Dr. DesJarlais, if you would like to have some comment about that.

Mr. DesJARLAIS. You are correct, and I agree with everything you said. The point that a lot of folks made on the campaign trail is there is simply too much government medicine. There are unsustainable costs. I know our colleague from New York, ANN, as an RN, probably recalls the day where she spent more time on patient care than documentation. And now most nurses will acknowledge that it's just the reverse; they spend much more time on paperwork and bureaucratic issues than taking care of patients.

And I think that it's important that we remember that just a short time ago, when the Affordable Health Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare, was being pushed forward, Americans vehemently opposed this bill. I don't want them to forget all the reasons why they opposed it. They didn't ask for it. We can't afford it. And we don't need it.

There were approximately 30 million uninsured people, according to the President, at the time. But yet up to 75 percent of people rated their health care as good or excellent. So we're taking a system that has flaws and excessive costs, and trying to completely turn it upside down with this Affordable Health Care Act, which we all know is going to lead to rationing of care, decreased quality of care, and increased costs. You can't add people to a system and decrease costs without rationing care.

So I think it's important that the people stay engaged and speak out and acknowledge that they want the relationship to be between themselves and their doctors, and not between Washington bureaucrats such as what the IPAB is proposing. That's exactly what we're going to see. And we need to stand firm. The American people don't need to forget why they were opposed to the ObamaCare bill in the first place.

Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the gentleman.

I yield now to Congresswoman Buerkle from New York for closing comments.

Ms. BUERKLE. Thank you very much.

I think it's so important to have this conversation with the seniors. We want to preserve your relationship with your physician. There is nothing more sacred than that relationship. This IPAB panel will disrupt that. It will come right between you and your physician.

It's so important that we get the facts out, that we have this conversation with seniors, that you understand that we are fighting to preserve Medicare, fighting to preserve Medicare as we know it, and Medicare and the patient-physician relationship.

With that, I thank you for this opportunity.


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