Health Care Update
As members of Congress go home for the August district work period to listen to their constituents concerns regarding health care (and other issues), I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on what has happened thus far regarding the health care bill(s) and my concerns with the legislation that will likely be brought to the floor for a vote in the fall.
On Tuesday, July 14th, the House Democrats unveiled their health care bill (H.R. 3200, authored by Rep. John Dingell (D) of Michigan). As is customary, it was referred to the committees with jurisdiction over health care: Education & Labor (Chaired by Rep. George Miller (D) of California); Ways & Means (Chaired by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) of New York); and Energy & Commerce (Chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D) of California). By Friday, July 17th, less than 3 days later, both the Education & Labor and Ways & Means Committees passed their pieces of the 1,000+ page bill. On July 31st, the Energy & Commerce passed their piece of the bill by a vote of 31 to 28 with five committee Democrats joining all committee Republicans in opposition. If you’d like to read the bill as well as the amendments offered (both those that passed and those that were rejected), please click here.
I have two primary concerns regarding H.R. 3200 – and a few others which I will also touch on. First, the bill does nothing to bend the cost curve down either in the near term or long term. If, as the President says, our current spending on health care is unsustainable, then merely passing a “reform” bill that is deficit neutral does nothing but maintain the status quo AND leave us in the same predicament the President says is unsustainable. In the case of H.R. 3200, however, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in its analysis that H.R. 3200 is not only not deficit neutral, but actually adds significantly to the deficit. Secondly, I believe the government-run option included in this bill (which I do not support) will eventually lead to a government takeover of health care through a single-payer system resulting in rationing and inefficiency the likes of which are unfathomable. With the federal government now running much of private industry including our banks and auto companies, I hardly think now (or ever, for that matter) is the time to create a need for yet another czar. As Medicare and Medicaid have shown (albeit in smaller proportions), government is never the place to look for cost-control or cost-cutting. And, the $1 trillion price tag is likely just a starting point since costs projected in government programs rarely, if ever, come in as initially forecasted. In Great Britain, for instance, their National Health Service (which employs a plethora of administrators) is now the third largest employer on the planet behind China’s army and Indian National Railways. Surely, an American National Health Service would become the world’s largest.
Other Areas of Great Concern Presented by H.R. 3200
• Tax increases on small businesses and fines imposed on small businesses for not providing “acceptable” coverage as deemed by the newly-created “Health Care Commissioner”
• Government-directed rationing used to deny payment for even basic treatments and drugs which will negatively impact seniors the most
• Americans will be dumped from their employer-based insurance on to government-run plans as businesses look to cut costs even though most Americans are happy with their insurance
• No identification requirement for new government health care benefits, further incentivizing more illegal immigration and increasing costs to taxpayers
• No explicit guarantee in the legislation that government-run health care will exclude taxpayer-financed abortions
• Lack of any medical liability reform will likely lead to more cost-shifting and eventually result in a physician shortage as continuing to practice medicine becomes cost-prohibitive
Thousands of you have contacted me about two other ancillary issues of import. I have signed Let Freedom Ring’s “Responsible Health Care Reform Pledge” which simply states that I will not vote to enact any health care reform package unless: (1) I have read it personally and in its entirety and (2) the final version has been available to the American public online at least 72 hours in advance. Considering the debacle of the massive “stimulus” and “cap & trade” which were both rammed through the House in less than 15 hours, I think this is a bare minimum that should be expected. I also feel strongly, as many of you do, that any member of Congress who votes for this a government-run option should forgo their participation in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and enroll in the new government-run option. For this reason, I have cosponsored Rep. John Fleming’s resolution (H.Res. 615).You can access the resolution here.
The organization chart of the H.R. 3200 health care bureaucratic nightmare can be accessed here.
Real Reform I Support
Over the last several months, I have provided links to health care reform plans that I support which achieve the goals that I believe all Americans share, namely: (1) providing affordable access to coverage for all Americans regardless of preexisting conditions; (2) incentivizing healthier living; (3) expanding choice through portability; (4) improving the health care delivery structure; and (5) cutting costs by ending fraud in Medicare and Medicaid and instituting real medical liability reform. I believe we can achieve these goals by utilizing a truly free market model with minimal government interference.
The following are two bills I support which achieve the aforementioned goals:
H.R. 2520 Patients Choice Act (authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin)
H.R. 3400 Empowering Patients First Act (authored by Rep. Tom Price (R) of Georgia)