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Griffin: Health reform overhaul necessary

Posted: March 18, 2011 - 9:16am

By U.S. REP. TIM GRIFFIN

Special to the Log Cabin

Our health care system desperately needs meaningful reform. Costs for the insured continue to rise, making up 17 percent of our GDP, and the cost of caring for the uninsured is unsustainable. This nation is $14 trillion in debt, and we are never going to get out of debt if we don’t address the rising cost of health care. Last year, Congress and the president focused on increasing coverage for the uninsured without addressing the question of how to pay for it. The new health care law is flawed beyond repair. That is why I co-sponsored and voted to repeal the health care reform law and am working with my colleagues to draft a sound replacement.

The new health care law increases government’s role in your health care decisions. By creating a federally-designed system of health insurance exchanges, the federal government will be the one managing the allocation and pricing of services, ultimately regulating access to care. Some call this rationing. Whatever you call it, Washington will ultimately be making the decisions about your health. These are decisions that should be made by you and your doctor.

Health care reform must first and foremost protect the doctor-patient relationship.

The new health care law increases costs. The nonpartisan economists at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the new health care law will cause health care costs to go up — not down — and the consequences are already being felt. For example, Caterpillar, which has a manufacturing plant that employs hundreds of Arkansans in North Little Rock, said that the new tax increases in the health care law will cost the company $90 million in new taxes. Companies across the country will not be able to absorb these costs, and, likely, will be forced to increase premiums paid by workers for health insurance.  This doesn’t save us money; it adds to our costs.

The new health care law adds to the debt. The American people understand the consequences and real price tag of $2 trillion associated with the law that passed last year. It was loaded with gimmicks and a $500 billion cut to Medicare to make it seem like it wouldn’t add to our national debt. All of us, our children and grandchildren, will pay for this through new taxes that will decrease economic prosperity at home and U.S. competitiveness abroad as we borrow 41 cents of every dollar we spend, much of it from China.The new health care law is a job killer. Businesses will struggle to comply with its onerous regulations like the costly 1099 filing requirement. Also, businesses face uncertainty resulting from regulations not yet written.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the employer mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance could lead to the elimination of 1.6 million jobs, with a majority of those coming from small businesses — America’s backbone and economic engine. 

The new health care law restricts freedom. Federal courts have struck down the “individual mandate,” requiring every individual to have insurance or pay a fine, citing that there is no constitutional authority for Congress to regulate and tax a citizen for their choice not to purchase health insurance.

We can do better. We must pass a new bill with real, meaningful health care reforms based on market-based solutions. We can promote prevention and wellness by financially rewarding employees who adopt healthy lifestyles; this has been proven effective. Instead of creating new programs, let’s empower American businesses and families by allowing them to buy health insurance across state lines and pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do. We must end the junk lawsuits that make trial attorneys richer, force doctors to practice defensive medicine and increase insurance costs. A Gallup poll found that, according to physicians, 26 percent of health care costs are because of defensive medicine. Let’s give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs and create incentives in the payment system to reward a higher quality of care.

It is possible for Congress to tackle our health care crisis. Our solutions must be a tribute to the ideals of this nation and reflect the will of its citizens. Let’s replace the new health care law  with common sense reforms that lower costs, preserve the doctor-patient relationship, permit Americans to keep the coverage they have, allow the private sector to create jobs and follow the Constitution.

Griffin represents the 2nd District. Visit his website at http://griffin.house.gov.

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