Most Americans understand that there is a health care financing crisis in America, and it must be addressed now. For weeks you've watched lawmakers in Washington debate the pros and cons of proposed health care legislation. The status quo is simply unacceptable.
However, the health care proposals Democrats are pushing do not address the true crisis. A government takeover of our health care system would do nothing more than lead to higher costs, lower quality, fewer choices, the loss of jobs, a bigger deficit and more government bureaucracy.
Here are the facts about the Democrats plan for health care "reform":
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated that the House Democrat bill would increase, not lower, rising health care costs.
- It imposes a total of $818 billion in new taxes.
- According to a model developed by President Obama's chief economic advisor, up to 5.5 million jobs will be lost as a result of this plan.
- It creates 53 new boards, bureaucracies, commissions or programs.
- It contains no prohibitions on federal bureaucrats denying access to life-saving treatments for patients.
- It allows for tax-funded abortions.
- It taxes individuals who cannot afford coverage or who do not purchase "bureaucrat-approved" health plans.
- It carries of price tag of $1.6 trillion.
Any trillion-dollar pill would be difficult to swallow, but the president is shoving this one down the throats of the American people. Since Democrats control the White House and have a supermajority in Congress, they have disregarded any notions of compromise or patient-centered solutions.
Instead, they want to mandate a new government-run health care scheme as quickly as possible. They are telling you that our health care system is broken. Well, that is only partly true.
Americans know that we have the best health care delivery systems in the world. Most of the great advances in medicine we have seen over the past century have come from the United States. We train and utilize the best physicians, which is why students journey from around the world to study and to practice here, and why patients who fail to get the care they need in their own country seek treatment in America.
The real problem in our health system is how we pay for the great care that our health care system provides. One policy, for instance, that must be changed is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Because of EMTALA, everyone in America has access to health care. This law allows anyone to walk in to any emergency room and requires the hospital staff to treat that person regardless of his or her citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.
However, walking into the ER with the sniffles is the most expensive way to treat a common cold! We need to close loopholes in the law that allow for folks who are not even American citizens from getting free health care.
I am fighting for health care reform that lowers costs and expands access to affordable health care, and I believe this can and must be done within the private sector. We must protect what actually works in America, and that is the sacred doctor-patient relationship. We must also fight to allow people to choose the personal care that suits their individual and their family's needs.
Congress can come together to develop a health care plan that will reduce costs and place you in charge of your own health care. All ideas should be heard. Any legislation that could change your health care should be crafted very carefully.
This is why I think it is important to have several town hall meetings, such as the one held this past Monday in Evans, to hear from constituents, small business owners, seniors, veterans, anyone and everyone affected by the Democrats' health care experiment.
Georgians have been writing, calling, and e-mailing my offices every day voicing their opposition to this plan to socialize health care. They are telling me they want meaningful reform, not a trillion-dollar experiment. They want a way to choose their health care coverage and be in control of their own health care decisions.
Like so many of you, I cherish the fundamental free market foundation of our health care economy and want Georgia families to have the freedom to choose the health care that fits their needs.
Know that I am crafting and supporting alternatives to help fix our health care financing problem, and I hope you will join the fight by encouraging all the folks you know to be concerned about the future of health care in America.
(U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., is a Republican representing Georgia's 10th Congressional District.)
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