To GOP, reform is about wider access, lower prices, not government control

During the presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama said every American should have access to a healthcare system just like his. He always failed to follow up that statement with the facts. Every federal employee — presidents, park rangers and postal employees all have access to the same plan.

He also didn’t point out that this plan provides lots of choices but not one of them is a government-controlled plan. And if there’s any group in America that knows they don’t want to be part of a government-run healthcare plan, it’s federal employees.

You see, any government-controlled plan would likely force more than 100 million Americans off their current insurance onto this so-called “public plan.” A key component of this coverage would be a comparative effectiveness board where federal bureaucrats make your healthcare decisions based on what works best for most people — not what your doctor says will work best for you.

There’s a difference between access to care and access to insurance. The Democrats’ plan would ensure your family had access to insurance, but that access would come with the same delayed and denied treatment that people in countries with similar government plans currently experience.

Cost is one of the leading factors blocking millions from receiving the quality of care they need. Democrats are again turning to the federal government to reduce costs. Think about it: When was the last time the federal government ever made something less expensive?

The federal government, under the control of D.C. Democrats, has already spent billions of your dollars to buy our nation’s auto industry and billions more on a so-called stimulus package that hasn’t stopped unemployment from skyrocketing.

The House Health Care Solutions Group has developed better alternatives to the government interference some are promoting. Republicans want to encourage competition and give you the freedom to choose a health plan that best fits your needs.

The first step is eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the current system and fixing the flawed government payment policies like the Medicare physician payment formula, which shifts costs from government programs to consumers with private health coverage. Another factor that drives up cost is medical liability rules designed to line the pockets of trial lawyers at the expense of patients.

Keeping costs down won’t solve all our healthcare problems. You still have to create access for every American. We’ve all experienced the mounds of forms that come along with health insurance. If Democrats get their way it won’t get any better.  Instead of dealing with redundant paperwork and detailing your family’s medical history, I think it makes more sense to be automatically enrolled and have the option of checking a box to decline your employer’s coverage if you think there is a plan that better meets your needs.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to work for a company that offers insurance. Republicans want to help those hard-working Americans by giving them the tax benefits large corporations receive for providing healthcare and also create a way for you to sift through the jargon to find a plan that works for you — and a plan that’s written in plain English.

Republicans know doing nothing is not an option, but we also know healthcare is far too important to rush through in a partisan manner without consensus.

President Obama has met with Senate Democrats and House Democrats, and even talked to Democratic groups. He told each of them that he was committed to crafting bipartisan healthcare legislation, but he still hasn’t spoken with Republicans.

If he talks with us, he would see that we agree on several key issues like providing access to quality healthcare for all Americans; letting Americans who like their insurance keep it; and using wellness programs to prevent illnesses instead of just treating them.

Those are three issues that give us a strong foundation for future discussions, but we don’t need arbitrary deadlines. We need to get it right.  Spending billions to buy an auto company might cost you dearly, but it won’t cost you nearly as much as adopting the failed healthcare policies of foreign countries.

Blunt is the chairman of the House Health Care Solutions Group.