We Can Win on Healthcare

Few if any political proposals in our lifetime will impact our lives in such a personal way as the government takeover of health care sought by the President and Democrats in Washington. If health care reform is taken down the wrong path, it will end in nothing short of disaster.

This is a make-or-break moment for Americans and the history of our great nation. And it is a battle we can win.

Two paths for health care reform are possible. One preserves and bolsters the ability for patients to control their own health care and make medical decisions independently with their doctors. The other leads to a government takeover of the health care industry that will permanently place Washington between you and the care you seek.

As a physician, I have always fought for patient-centered health care reform that promotes six principles of care: accessibility, affordability, quality, choices, innovation, and responsiveness. Surely none of these principles are improved by greater involvement of the federal government. Unfortunately, Democrats in charge have largely (and predictably) ignored the ideas of Republicans and are marching forward with a government-centered health care plan.

One of the most basic precepts of medicine is that you cannot effectively treat the problem until you get the diagnosis right. Yet Democrats have terribly misdiagnosed the disease in American health care. As with nearly everything, they have decided the problem in our health care delivery system is a shortage of government intervention.

Having personally navigated the federal health care system of our first “public option” — Medicare — I can tell you firsthand that the government only distances patients from access to the best care. Restrictive coverage rules, endless bureaucratic delays, and inadequate financing structures leave patients without the choices we should expect in a 21st century health care system.

The real problem with American health care is that too many patients have a third-party in between them and their care, be it a Washington bureaucrat, an employer, or an unresponsive insurer. Just as the pressure of competition can empower a consumer, our goal must be to put patients in charge of their health care so that insurers are accountable to them, not the government or another third-party.

The President’s government-run plan will not fix this problem; rather, it will cement it by permanently making Washington the all-powerful middle man in the delivery of medical services. The Democrats’ taxpayer-subsidized plan will push private insurance providers out of business and catch millions of Americans in its net. According to a new estimate, 114 million Americans who currently carry personal, private health insurance will be forced onto the government plan.

As the experience of many nations around the world has proven, a government-run system will ration care. Medical decisions that should be made by patients in consultation with their doctors will instead be made by unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington. People who have never treated a patient in their lives will decide the procedures to which you should have access. Vital treatments will be delayed or even denied.

And make no mistake: there will be no turning back, no reversing the government intrusion that Democrats desire. Medicare began as a public option and now holds 97% of the market share. This new government-run health care plan will permanently swallow up the personal, private care that so many Americans enjoy. The issue and threat to American medicine is deadly serious.

Yet, there remains hope. We can win this debate. Just like fifteen years ago, Americans reject what the President and his allies are promoting. A recent Washington Post poll showed that only 37% of Americans, informed of its effects, support the President’s government-run plan.

Democrats hold sizable majorities in both chambers of Congress, but what makes this nation so great remains true: ultimately the people’s voice carries the most weight.

We can succeed. We can stand up for patient-centered health care and send the President’s fatally flawed idea to the ash heap of history. It will not happen, however, without your help.

It is my hope that you will recognize the seriousness of the threat to the care you, your family, and generations of Americans will receive. And what’s more, I hope that you will ask, “What can I do?” The conservative movement is only as powerful as its ability to affect the direction of our nation for the better. We have proven ourselves time and again, but this must be our moment.

As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, I invite you to engage in this historic debate. All representatives and senators must know that America does not seek a government takeover of health care. In our communities and in Washington, conservatives must speak out. Speak to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, even strangers. Online and in person. Tell them that we support a health care system which puts patients, not bureaucrats, in charge. Write, call, email, blog. Fight. Everyday.

We can win this. In fact, we must win this fight. And when we do, I hope you will feel the accomplishment of having fought right along side us for the advancement of American health care and freedom.


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