We need sensible planOur nation is at a crossroads.
By: John Kline, Lakeville, Minn., The Republican Eagle
Our nation is at a crossroads. The course we chart now will forever transform our health care system and send ripples through our economy, our communities, and our homes.
Down one path, we see $1.3 trillion in new government mandates and stifling tax increases. On the other, we see a package of targeted reforms aimed at solving our most pressing challenges in a way our nation can afford.
Choices in Washington are not always so stark. Lawmakers often reach across the aisle to work on sensible solutions to our nation’s challenges.
Unfortunately, the Democratic majority in Congress has cast bipartisanship aside in their quest to orchestrate a government takeover of our health care system. The result is a highly partisan, financially irresponsible proposal that has polarized the nation. It didn’t have to be this way.
Democrats left Republicans with no alternative but to propose our own plan. It’s a plan I’m proud of and one that would significantly improve health care affordability and access. Yet I would have preferred to join Democrats at the negotiating table to develop a plan together.
My goal from the outset has been to address the No. 1 problem: the skyrocketing cost of coverage. We must bring down premiums while preserving coverage for those who like their benefits. And we must expand access to affordable coverage for Americans struggling to gain access to care.
To achieve those goals, it is neither necessary nor wise to dismantle our current system. Features of our system work well, as any cancer survivor or transplant recipient can attest. America is home to the greatest medical innovation in the world, and Minnesota is a top medical destination state.
We must preserve what works while focusing on reforms such as driving down prices and increasing competition by allowing people to purchase health insurance across state lines and giving individuals and small businesses the option of pooling together to acquire health insurance at lower prices.
Republicans also want to give states the tools and freedoms to pursue innovative strategies. Approaches such as high-risk pools and other universal access programs will expand affordable coverage to those who need it most, particularly individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
Republicans are also committed to ending junk lawsuits, which drive up the cost of health care for everyone by forcing doctors to practice defensive medicine. Despite being endorsed by President Obama earlier this year, meaningful medical liability reform was ignored in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest government power grab.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republican proposal would reduce private insurance premiums by up to 10 percent, expand coverage to 3 million uninsured , and reduce the deficit by $68 billion over 10 years.
Instead, Democrats propose spending $1.3 trillion or more in the next decade.
Their approach relies on a government-run plan with an unfair competitive advantage designed to crowd out the private sector. It’s financed by crippling tax hikes on small businesses, penalties levied on employers and individuals, and hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts.
I am especially concerned for the more than 10 million American seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage, including 230,000 from Minnesota and more than 17,000 from my district, who will be the first — but not the last —Americans to lose the care they need.
Adding insult to injury, the Democrats’ plan delays implementation of the new entitlement program and coverage subsidies but implements program cuts and collects taxes immediately, artificially lowering the cost of the program.
The Pelosi plan began as an 852-page proposal and exceeds 2,000. At this rate, who knows how much more red tape and federal dictates are to come.
We must do better. I will continue pressing for reforms that reduce health care premiums and expand access to coverage. I will continue listening to my constituents, who do not want government bureaucrats to come between patients and their doctors. And I will continue extending a hand of bipartisanship, because working together, we can choose the right path.
John Kline can be reached at (952) 808-1213 or http://kline.house.gov