This past month, I've participated in nine health care town halls and the message is clear: Americans want health care reform that lowers their costs. They want access to more doctors and treatments and less interference from insurance companies, special interests and, especially, Washington bureaucrats.
If lawmakers have learned anything from this summer's lively health care town halls, it's that Americans are unwilling to swallow another trillion-dollar pill.
Yet the White House continues pushing the same plan it's peddled for months - a costly government takeover that will run up the national debt, ration care, and destroy millions of American jobs. It's no wonder the American people aren't buying this product. After auto and bank bailouts, intervention in our housing markets and car businesses, and so-called stimulus plans and trillion-dollar budgets, the American people are having buyers' remorse. They see that government is not the best solution - for financial woes, or for implementing real health care reform.
Despite a wave of American protests, last week the president again made a pitch for his health care experiment, a plan he pledged would "greatly benefit Americans from all walks of life, as well as the economy as a whole." However, a close look at the bill reveals a chasm between the president's rhetoric and reality. Here are a few of the facts:
• According to President Obama, "Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have." The reality is independent experts agree that the proposed legislation would result in millions of Americans losing the coverage they have (the Congressional Budget Office believes several million; the Urban Institute 47 million; and the Lewin Group as many as 114 million).
• The president said, "There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants." The fact is that nothing in any of the Democrat bills would require individuals to verify their legal status or identity prior to receiving taxpayer-subsidized benefits.
• The president stated, "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits - either now or in the future. Period." Even the mainstream media are throwing a flag on this play. The Associated Press said that "by conventional arithmetic, Democratic plans would drive up the deficit by billions of dollars." The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has found that the bill would increase deficits by $239 billion over 10 years.
Additionally, there is wide speculation about the number of jobs that will be lost with this new health care plan. Some groups claim the number is as low as 194,000 to 324,000 jobs lost. However, according to a model developed by President Obama's chief economic advisor, up to 5.5 million jobs will be lost. The National Federation of Independent Business predicts that 1 million small business jobs will be lost. The bottom line is that during these tough economic times, one job lost is one too many.
Health care legislation impacts everyone, and lawmakers owe it to the American people to be upfront about what this 1,017 page experiment contains. I hope the president was sincere when he said his "door is always open." Many of my colleagues have offered a broad range of proposals, and in the coming weeks, I will introduce a plan that will lower costs and expand access to affordable health care.
It's time for the leadership to take government-run health care off the table and start over on a common-sense, bipartisan health care reform plan our nation can afford.
(U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., represents Georgia's 10th Congressional District.)
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