Republicans Have Better Healthcare Proposals

With debate mounting across the country over health care reform, more and more people are taking an interest in what this would mean for them and their families.  As Americans become more familiar with the proposals put forth by the administration and its allies in Congress, they are growing increasingly leery of, and concerned about, a government-run plan — the “government option.”  

Health care is a very personal issue, and reform proposals hit close to home.  Many Americans, rightfully concerned and upset that their government is trying to take control of their health care decisions, have taken to town halls, the Internet, and e-mail to voice their objections to legislation currently under consideration in Congress.

The tradition of citizens expressing their disagreement and frustrations with their government — from the Boston Tea Party to the Civil Rights Movement to war protests — is distinctly American.  However, leading Democratic lawmakers who once called “dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” now question the authenticity and sincerity of those Americans who don’t support what they have proposed.  Supporters of a government-run plan have vilified the American citizens who oppose them, labeling their opponents as nothing more than tools or plants of health insurance companies.  The reason they and many left-leaning organizations have chosen this route is simple: they know they can’t sell their plan on its merits, so they demonize those who question it.

Earlier this week, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) launched a television ad campaign targeting Congressional Republicans because they “oppose legislation that would lower costs for America’s families…and stop insurance company abuses.”  HCAN, AFSCME, their colleagues at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and others need to take a closer look at whether the legislation they support would actually lower costs for American families.  Doug Elmendorf, director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, has repeatedly said that the Democrats’ proposals do not lower costs for American families, and that they will actually increase costs.  In a Senate Budget Committee hearing in July, Mr. Elmendorf stated that, “the legislation that I have seen so far would raise costs, not lower them.”  

At a time when our debt is at an all time high and our economic outlook is uncertain, we cannot afford to borrow and tax more just so we can spend more.  The most important aspect of any reform effort must be to control the long term cost growth of health care services; however, the administration’s proposals do not address costs.  In fact, the proposals before us would make health care more expensive, not less, and do not even meet President Obama’s primary measure of success for health reform — reducing the long-term growth of health care costs for individuals, businesses and government.  So what’s going on here?

Clearly there is a serious effort underway to move our health care system to a single-payer system, but proponents are not selling reform as such.  The lofty rhetoric coming from those on the left about improving patient choices, lowering costs, and improving prevention and wellness is just a mask for accomplishing total federal control of our health care system.  Their primary goal is to move our health care system to a point where it is inseparably intertwined with the federal government and looks more like a Canadian, French, or British model than one that is uniquely American.  I am sure some Democrats would cry foul at that statement, and I am sure that some do not support this model.  It is obvious, though, that the Administration and Congressional leadership do, and they are determined to push this type of plan through no matter the cost to the American people.  

Those who don’t support this government-run approach are labeled “opponents of health care reform” or are accused of somehow supporting the goals of industry stakeholders and not mainstream American families.  They have been labeled “un-American.”  Again, the facts are important.  Congressional Republicans have offered five comprehensive health care reform proposals so far, and one bipartisan Senate proposal.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) and I introduced the Patients’ Choice Act, a bill that would rewrite the tax code so every American would receive an upfront, refundable tax credit to purchase health insurance.  This would result in quality coverage in a budget neutral manner.  Most importantly, the Patient’s Choice Act is the only proposal that would lower cost for America’s families over the long-term. If we can control escalating costs, everything else will fall into place:  managing chronic disease better, ensuring access to coverage, and transitioning to a health care system that rewards healthy lifestyle choices.  

I will carefully review and evaluate any health care reform bill that is considered by the Congress, and I will continue to fight for a plan that is fiscally responsible and sustainable for future generations.  I believe we must keep what is working in our health care system, while also doing more to promote wellness, prevention, and chronic disease management and to help those Americans who currently have no access to coverage.  Any reform effort must also protect the research and development that has made America the leader in medical innovation.  Most importantly, any reform must ensure that Americans, not government bureaucrats, are in control of their health care.   

I encourage all Americans to review the plans being proposed and ask lawmakers hard questions about how health care reform will affect the lives of every American.