Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Care Reform

I am very pleased that so many people were able to join me this morning at Clovis East High School to learn about the health reform legislation moving through Congress. I expected to hear from people representing the entire political spectrum and I did. Liberals, conservatives, and independent voters joined medical professionals from across the valley in a very civil but very impassioned forum. It was a great success and a model for civil discourse.

I started today’s event by making clear my opposition to the current health reform bill – H.R. 3200. I oppose the bill because it takes choice away from Americans; it takes control away from patients and doctors; and it vastly expands government power and spending.

In addition, as a Congressman responsible for advocating on behalf of a large number of low-income Americans, I have a heightened interest in and concern for Medicaid beneficiaries. Patients served by this government-run program have no meaningful choices when it comes to their own health care and are experiencing nothing less than second class medicine today. It is a travesty that our government can claim to be compassionate while trapping millions of Americans in a health system that has outcomes far worse than privately insured Americans – outcomes that include unnecessarily high mortality rates. It is potentially an even greater tragedy that some in Congress haven’t learned their lesson about government-run health programs and are trying to create a new one.

While I strongly oppose H.R. 3200 or any effort to create a new government health program, I do believe that Congress needs to pass health care reforms. Members of Congress, including myself, have a responsibility to do more than say ‘no’ to a bad plan – we need to have a plan and our ideas should be in writing. I do have a plan and it’s a comprehensive alternative that offers universal access to health care without bankrupting our nation or depriving the American people of choice. In fact, my bill, authored jointly by Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Senators Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) and Richard Burr (North Carolina) is all about choice – its title is the Patients’ Choice Act and it is available on my website for public inspection and comment.

In closing, I want to express my appreciation to the people who took the time to learn about H.R. 3200 today. It is essential that the public understand the reforms that are likely to become law.