September 17, 2009

A BETTER PLAN FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

As I traveled throughout Idaho last month, Idahoans overwhelmingly expressed their concerns over the further encroachment of the federal government into their everyday lives, particularly into something as personal as health care. They shared their distrust of a government plan and their worries about losing their existing coverage and not being able to keep their preferred doctor. Because health care is too big, too personal, and too important to rush or get wrong, many Idahoans would prefer that Congress take the time to get this right instead of quickly pushing through a bad bill for political reasons, and I agree.

There are many areas in health care reform where Republicans and Democrats can agree and find common ground. I support fair insurance market reforms so that all Americans can have access to health care. We need to prevent the rationing of care and ensure that people can keep their doctors. As the President has stated repeatedly, all Americans who are happy with their existing coverage should be able to keep their plan. Preserving access to high-quality private health coverage, an increased focus on prevention and wellness initiatives, delivery system reforms and controlling spending should be priorities in any comprehensive health care reform legislation.

Recently, I attended President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on health care reform, and am carefully considering all he put forward. The President stated his case eloquently, outlining problems and concerns with our current system and delivering a spirited defense of his plan for reform. The President stated that "we must bring the best ideas of both parties together" and claimed that his plan for a government option would increase coverage and save money by bending the cost curve of health care spending downward over time. A Rasmussen Reports poll showed a brief rise in support for the plan after the speech, to 51 percent, before dropping quickly back to 45 percent, where it was prior to the speech.

Clearly, a majority of the American people still have questions and reservations about whether this is the best way to reform our health care system. While I agree that there are problems with health care in America, I disagree that the best way to solve these problems is with a government plan. Like most Americans, I remain skeptical that the presence of a government plan in the insurance marketplace will increase coverage and reduce costs.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that some proposals in the House and Senate will significantly add to the deficit, costing up to $1 trillion over the next decade. This projection is alarming, particularly in light of a federal deficit that has already tripled since last year. As a result, any attempt at reform must address the growth of health care spending and I, like many Americans, am concerned that President Obama's plan does not sufficiently do so.

In our effort to reform health care, each of these major concerns need to be addressed. We must reduce the skyrocketing cost of health care. We need to increase access to private health coverage for all Americans. And we must do this without adding expensive new growth in government that will drive up our deficits and bankrupt future generations. These objectives are achievable if we will work together on a bipartisan basis to find common sense solutions. On the health care section of my website, as a resource to help constituents to educate themselves and get involved, I have posted several of the bills now in Congress, along with other helpful information. You can find it all at http://crapo.senate.gov/issues/healthcare/HealthCareReform.cfm.

Word Count: 597