By Sen. John Barrasso, M.D. (R-Wyo.) - 09/22/09 09:30 PM EDT
I’ve held town meetings with doctors, nurses, seniors, hospital workers, small-business owners and citizens in Wyoming and across the country. They are concerned, skeptical and furious about the health reform schemes moving through Congress.
Spending trillions of additional taxpayer dollars to lower healthcare costs simply does not add up. Americans do not understand how cutting $500 billion from Medicare will help the patients who depend on it. They do not understand the rush to increase taxes on individuals, families and small businesses during tough economic times. And they do not understand why the Administration and some in Congress refuse to take their concerns seriously.
Democratic leadership has a scheme to force a severely flawed healthcare bill through Congress using partisan parliamentary tricks. They plan to fundamentally change one-sixth of our nation’s economy with just 20 hours of Senate debate. Why the rush?
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that our national debt this year will be $1.6 trillion. They forecast that the deficit will double in five years and triple by 2019. Can we really afford to impose this burden on our children and grandchildren?
Americans want simple, practical, affordable changes now. Changes that prohibit the use of pre-existing condition clauses. Changes that allow people to take their health insurance with them when they switch jobs. Changes that offer reductions in premiums for making healthy lifestyle choices. And changes that allow small businesses to pool resources to get the same competitive insurance rates as large companies.
Any change to our healthcare system must meet a number of key goals: greater transparency on cost; coverage for pre-existing conditions; eliminate lawsuit abuse; coordinate care; and promote healthy lifestyles aimed at prevention.
Most of all, Americans do not want Washington telling them who they have to see for medical care. They want the freedom to choose the doctor, the hospital and the healthcare plan that best meets their needs. No Washington bureaucrat should ever be allowed to deny that right.
The time has come for Congress to listen — really listen — to the American people. They want us to enact sensible reforms that lower costs, increase access and expand health plan options. They do not want risky, sweeping changes that increase the national debt and don’t solve the problems.
How has Washington responded? By all appearances, the Democrat health reform agenda continues to move full steam ahead. The president’s speech to Congress promised: (1) the bill he signs will not add “one dime” to the federal budget deficit. Not now, and not in the future; 2) his plan will lower healthcare costs for families, businesses and the government; 3) he will pay for reform by eliminating waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid.
Like the old adage says, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Evidence proves the health reform bills we are debating in Congress do not meet the president’s objectives. Now is the time for the president to show his plan to the American people.
The president said, “There are still some details that remain to be ironed out.” The secretary of Health and Human Services said people should not be “distracted by the details.” The American people know that the details matter.
I have long believed we can improve our nation’s healthcare system. Doing nothing is simply not an option. But we must have the right kind of reform.
We must be careful, thoughtful and deliberate about the changes we make. Healthcare is very complex and intensely personal. We must focus on finding the correct solution, not a quick solution.
People all across America are telling us what kind of health reform they want. It is time to put aside partisan agendas and show them we are listening.
Barrasso is an orthopaedic surgeon.