I believe that our health care system must be reformed. But I wholeheartedly opposed the Democrat-led move toward government-run health care in the 111th Congress.
I believe that our health care system must be reformed. But I wholeheartedly opposed the Democrat-led move toward government-run health care in the 111th Congress. President Ronald Reagan’s words continue to offer a stark contrast to what the Democrats engaged in last year, "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." Indeed, the notion that the federal government could overtake our health care system and run it with increased efficiency is absurd and indicates a serious lack of historical perspective.
Consider, for example, that when Medicare originally became law in 1965, the Congressional Budget Office predicted it would cost $12 billion per year by 1990; in reality, the cost of Medicare in 1990 was over nine times greater than projected -- about $110 billion. Likewise, the Medicare expansion of 1987 was projected to cost $1 billion annually, by 1992; the actual cost was $17 billion. The same principle will define ObamaCare – even with its outrageous price tag, it will cost even more years down the road.
The federal government is not known for its ability to keep entitlement spending under control, and the thought of Americans' health care decisions being put into the hands of an unimaginably large bureaucracy is a frightening prospect, indeed. This is why I opposed every degree of the legislation we now refer to as “ObamaCare.” One of my first votes in the 112th Congress was to repeal ObamaCare, and I was pleased to support efforts to support efforts to defund this monstrous piece of legislation when debating the Fiscal Year 2011 package.
The United States is a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world. We have been successful because of our willingness to allow every person, regardless of nationality or social standing, to strive for success, without heavy-handed government intervention. Good health care reform must be enacted, and it will adhere to these uniquely American principles by the will of the Republican-led House of Representatives, putting health care decisions in the hands of the patient, not in the cold, incapable hands of an inefficient bureaucracy.
Any good health care reform legislation – set in place of ObamaCare - must adhere to four basic principles:
• First, every American, regardless of health or financial status, should have access to affordable healthcare coverage of their choice, including those who have a medical condition that makes finding affordable healthcare coverage difficult.
• Second, healthcare should be family-focused and patient centered. It must put patients, in consultation with their doctors, in control of their healthcare; not the patient's employer, and certainly not government bureaucrats. Neither should certain treatments be denied because the government decides that a given treatment is not cost effective.
• Third, people should own and control their healthcare plan, and it should be personal and portable. Individuals should have the ability to change their plan if they find they don't like it, and keep it if it fits their needs at a price they are willing to pay.
• And fourth, Americans who are happy with their current plan should be allowed to keep it.
For these reasons, I consistently opposed Democrat health care proposals in the 111th Congress that wrested control of the American health care industry from the hands of private organizations and turn it over to the federal government. Most notably in the 111th Congress, I voted against H.R. 3962, a nearly 2,000 page bill that would cost $2.2 million per word (at least $1.5 trillion, overall), would impose over $725 billion in new taxes, and would create, extend, or expand over 150 government programs and bureaucracies, in addition to its primary purpose of forcing all Americans to ultimately purchase their insurance through the government.
In addition to voting against H.R. 3962, I also supported H.R. 3400, the Empowering Patients First Act, a Republican health care proposal that would have actually fix the health care system, without socializing it, and without leaving an unbearable financial burden on future generations. Unfortunately, the Democrats wouldn’t even let this legislation see a debate on the House floor, letting it sit in a House subcommittee.
In the 112th Congress, Republicans will soon craft legislation which mirrors the Empowering Patients First Act:
• Makes health care portable, by tying health insurance plans to the patient. Americans shouldn't be forced to choose between leaving a job and having health care.
• Ensures that those who need coverage the most are taken care of, guaranteeing coverage of pre-existing conditions by offering financial incentives for insurance companies who cover high-risk insurance pools.
• Incentivizes providers to work in Community Health Centers and emergency areas, thus providing more help to those who need it most, but can't afford it.
• Allows Americans to keep their current health care plan, if they are happy with it.
• Allows patients to purchase health care coverage across state lines, an injection of competition that would have a huge impact on health insurance prices. Consider auto insurance policies; it's now as simple as logging onto the internet and buying the cheapest policy you can find, and competition between auto insurance companies across the nation has made policy prices much cheaper. Because Americans can't buy across state lines, this isn't an option with health care.
• Ferrets out frivolous lawsuits, by putting a cap on non-economic damages that can be awarded in lawsuits, thus preventing lawyers from taking advantage of the system by pushing for multi-million dollar settlements for "emotional distress," etc... Because of this reform, doctors would pay less for insurance, and health care costs would go down across-the-board.
• Factors in prevention, not just treatment, by allowing employers to offer benefits for healthy lifestyles, thereby lessening the burden on health insurance companies, and further pushing down prices.
• Pays for itself, and is revenue-neutral.
• Lessens abuse of entitlement programs, by reforming the "safety net" to prevent abuse and unnecessary spending. States would have to cover 90% of those people below 200% of the federal poverty level before they could expand eligibility levels under Medicaid and SCHIP. And Medicaid and SCHIP beneficiaries would be given the option of a voucher to purchase private insurance.
• Only applies to legal, permanent residents of the United States