November 25, 2009

THE WRONG KIND OF HEALTH CARE REFORM

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

On November 21, I voted against moving forward on the health care reform proposal in the Senate because the legislation is not true reform. This bill, drafted behind closed doors with only a handful of Democrats involved, is a massive government takeover that will result in higher health care costs for Americans - period. It passed on a strictly partisan vote of 60 to 39. Some of my colleagues argue this vote was merely a procedural step. This, however, is far more than procedure: it is the Senate Democrats telegraphing their intention to drastically change our health care system-against the wishes of the majority of Americans.

Americans are calling on Congress for health care reform because costs are skyrocketing. They want us to stop the punishing increases in insurance premiums and to ensure access to quality care. But, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally revealed the 2,074-page bill, that isn't what we got. Instead, this legislation will:

• drive up the cost of health care insurance and medicalcare, not down; • increase taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars;
• cut Medicare for senior citizens by hundreds of billions of dollars;
• grow the federal government by over $2.4 trillion in new spending;
• push needy uninsured into a failing Medicaid system;
• impose a damaging unfunded mandate on struggling states;
• leave millions of Americans uninsured; and
• establish a massive governmental intrusion into management of our health care economy.

We are experiencing double-digit unemployment yet the Reid bill raises taxes by nearly half a trillion dollars. President Obama promised lower- and middle-income Americans that they would not see any tax increases, but under this bill, they will. Medicare faces cuts of nearly $500 billion to create a new government entitlement, even though Medicare is already facing enormous unfunded liabilities and looming insolvency. These cuts will not preserve the Medicare program. Instead, they will reduce access to and the quality of care our seniors receive from Medicare. Seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans will also lose many of the benefits they currently have.

When you take away the budget gimmicks used in the early years of the implementation, this bill creates a massive expansion of government, growing the size of the federal government by over $2.4 trillion over ten years of full implementation. This legislation pushes 15 million uninsured into Medicaid, a failing entitlement program, rather than giving them access to private health insurance. This expansion will result in $25 billion in unfunded federal mandates on the states, further jeopardizing state budgets and forcing them to drive up spending and taxes.

The bill creates a government option insurance company, establishing unprecedented expansion of governmental control over health care. It imposes an individual mandate, forcing you to buy government-approved insurance. It imposes a mandate on employers to provide a government-approved health plan to their employees. Employers who don't comply will face $28 billion in new taxes, which will result in reduced wages and lost jobs.

We need to start over with step-by-step reforms that make sense and will make a real difference for all Americans. Real reform would allow individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines; equalize tax treatment of insurance; eliminate waste, fraud and abuse; allow small business to pool together to purchase insurance; and promote wellness and prevention.

I encourage you to read the bill and form your own opinion. Take a close look at how the bill is funded, who and what it covers and doesn't cover and how it may impact you and your family. The bill is available at http://crapo.senate.gov.

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