By: David Dreier, Congressman, 26th District
Healthcare reform will directly impact every single one of our families as well as have lasting ramifications for generations to come. Most Americans agree that the cost of healthcare insurance is too high. The overall goal of any reform package must be to lower costs and increase access to quality healthcare options, without limiting patient choice.
In order to lower healthcare costs for all Americans, medical malpractice reform must be implemented so that patients, not trial lawyers, are the main focus of medicine. A nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study concluded that the federal government alone can save over $50 billion in just ten years by implementing medical liability reform. Individuals with pre-existing conditions should not be discriminated against and insurers must not be able to arbitrarily cancel their policies. In addition, small businesses need the ability to band together so they can provide affordable healthcare for their employees and it is essential to allow individuals and small businesses to purchase insurance across state lines. Targeted tax relief for lower and middle income families is also necessary and Congress must eliminate overlapping programs as well as rampant waste, fraud, and abuse that dramatically and needlessly drive up costs.
However, the Senate bill does nothing to improve the quality of care, nor does it rein in costs or increase access to coverage. Instead, this legislation creates a nearly $1 trillion new federal program at a time when we are already trillions of dollars in debt. It includes drastic cuts to Medicare, totaling over $520 billion, and threatens the nearly 11 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage. In addition, the package contains $569.2 billion in tax increases that will directly impact families and small businesses, further damaging our already struggling economy and provides for the hiring of 18,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents to ensure compliance with all of the new mandates.
The Senate bill implements the many backroom deals for specific states, including the so-called “Gator Aid”, the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Cornhusker Kickback”, which gives Florida, Louisiana and Nebraska residents special treatment. There is also no guarantee to the more than 8 million Americans enrolled in Health Savings Accounts that they can keep their current plan nor does it protect the healthcare coverage for millions of veterans and their dependents. For all these reasons, I could not support this legislation.
As Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, I am also disappointed with the fact that the Democratic leadership decided to completely close down debate and prohibit members from offering amendments that would have assisted families, small businesses, seniors and veterans. An open and transparent process is essential for legislation of this magnitude.
Finally, Congress should come together to find bipartisan solutions to improve access to quality healthcare for individuals, seniors and families. If you are interested in additional information on the healthcare reform legislation I support, please click here.
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