What's in the Bill -- Read it and Weep
By Rep. Dave Camp
Three weeks ago, at the White House Health Care Summit, President Barack Obama gave Congress six weeks to consider his proposal and chart a course forward. The Democrats are now using every dirty and undemocratic trick in the book to ram this health care bill through Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democrats have even decided that they will "deem" the Senate bill as having passed the House without directly voting on it, trying to hide the fact they will have blessed the backroom deals and kickbacks included in the Senate-passed bill. More importantly, however, their use of this maneuver reflects the fact that this flawed bill has been rejected by the American people because it costs too much, spends too much and taxes too much.
In a speech last week, Speaker Pelosi stated, "We have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what is in it." But why wait? Below is a glimpse of what Speaker Pelosi does not want you to see in her government-run health care bill, at least not until it is signed into law:
Spends nearly $1 trillion. If the Democrats were really interested in controlling costs, they should not spend more than $1 trillion. We cannot spend our way out of a problem.
Increasing taxes by one-half trillion dollars threatens jobs, hurts families. Increasing taxes on small businesses will jeopardize job creation and put millions of others at risk of losing their current job. In December, the National Federation of Independent Businesses cited the prospect of the Democrats' policy initiatives as one of the leading reasons for not expanding their payrolls. Moreover, in this weak economy, American families can't afford to send even more of their income to Washington.
Increases the cost of health insurance premiums. The second-highest ranking Senate Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, last week said: "Anyone who would stand before you and say 'well, if you pass health care reform, next year's health care premiums are going down,' I don't think is telling the truth. I think it is likely they would go up." If enacted, it is not only likely costs will go up, it is definite. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office stated that under the Democrats' bill, premiums would increase for millions of families by $2,100 more than if Congress did nothing.
Cuts one-half trillion dollars from Medicare. These cuts are so drastic that the Obama administration's own actuaries predict that hospitals and doctors "might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries)."
Breaks pledge of transparency. Instead of working to lower the cost of health insurance for the American people and developing this important legislation in public and on C-SPAN, Democrats have spent the last year negotiating behind-closed-doors deals for special interests such as the Cornhusker Kickback, Louisiana Purchase, Gator Aid, as well as a multibillion-dollar deal with the big drug makers. This is not the kind of change the American people were promised.
Massively expands unaffordable entitlements. The Democrats' bill dumps 15 million people onto Medicaid, a government health program that is already bankrupting state budgets and is a false promise to enrollees who are unable to find a doctor or hospital willing to see them. Entitlement expansion is not health care reform.
Forces Americans to buy insurance they don't want and can't afford. The American people are telling their elected representatives that the individual mandate -- a requirement to buy insurance approved by the federal government or pay a new tax -- is something that they want us to scrap. That is why we are seeing state legislatures across the country passing resolutions exempting their citizens from these unprecedented federal mandates.
From the beginning, Republicans have listened to the people and offered step-by-step reforms that lower health care premiums for families and small businesses. Lowering the cost of health care will ensure that it is affordable and accessible for all Americans.
The bill I and House Republicans proposed last fall reduces premiums, ensures nobody will be denied access to affordable coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition and gives states the tools to implement their own innovative reforms to bring down costs and expand coverage. CBO projects this plan would lower insurance premiums for millions of families, on average, by up to 10 percent -- about $2,000 per year.
Just as important, Republicans get the job done without cutting Medicare, without raising taxes and without piling more debt on our kids and grandkids. All the details of our plan are available at healthcare.gop.gov.
Americans' health care is much too complex and too important to risk on a massive 2,000-page bill that puts federal bureaucrats in charge of your personal health care decisions. We need to start over with a step-by-step, common-sense approach to reducing costs for all Americans. Republicans want health care reform, but we need to do it the right way and we need to start right now.
Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., is the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.