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Camp and Boehner: Reform Health Care Without Government Takeover

July 14, 2009

When President Barack Obama arrives in Michigan today, he’ll continue our national dialogue on giving Americans better access to affordable health care. The question is how we get there.

House Republicans have a plan that will reduce costs, expand access and increase the quality of care in a way we can afford. Democrats, on the other hand, have responded with the same old formula of more taxes, mandates and spending. The result will be a government-run monstrosity that increases costs, reduces quality and forces as many as 114 million Americans off their current plans, according to one independent analysis.

The facts are disturbing enough and are downright scary when you think about what they actually mean for American families. Besides forcing Americans to lose the health insurance they have and like, what does a government-run plan really mean?

Just look across the border to Ontario, Canada. Less than three weeks ago, Ava Isabella Stinson was born prematurely, weighing only two pounds and four ounces. The lack of any empty beds in a neonatal unit forced her parents to seek care in the United States. It is a common problem under Canada’s government-controlled health care system. If America adopts a similar model, where will our babies go?

We also have to ask, where will our jobs go if we say “yes” to all the tax hikes, especially those on small businesses, in the Democrats’ plan? Just Monday, The Detroit News reported the all-too-familiar story a 31-year-old Metro Detroit native. His family worked in the auto industry, and he’s made a living in construction. Now he finds himself laid off. Small businesses — construction crews like those he worked for — are the foundation of job creation and economic growth. That should be clear to Democrats, whose trillion-dollar “stimulus” — which focused on expanding government programs, not helping small businesses — is falling well short of the administration’s promises.

Yet the centerpieces of the House Democrats’ government takeover of health care are a new small business tax and a slew of new mandates on employers. These are on top of the president’s budget that included even more taxes on small businesses. Small businesses are accustomed to the difficult choices they must make when business costs rise. Equipment purchases are shelved. Health care and retirement benefits are cut. Hiring is put off, and some employees are let go. The result is even more Americans out of work and, yes, fewer with access to quality health care.

The Democrats’ health care plan also includes a flurry of new employer mandates that will raise the costs of doing business even higher. By penalizing employers — including millions of small businesses — who cannot afford to pay for health care, these new mandates will mean even fewer jobs. According to a methodology developed by the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, the mandates could cost 4.7 million jobs during the next 10 years. The National Federation of Independent Businesses recently warned that they could cost one million small business jobs alone.

House Republicans want to give small businesses better options to make health care available and affordable for employees and their families. Small business health plans are a cornerstone of our health care reform proposal. They allow smaller firms to band together through associations and purchase high-quality health insurance at lower costs, just like large corporations do. If General Electric can do it, then why not your local hardware store?

Our proposal also focuses on preventive and wellness programs to help avoid serious, and costly, illnesses. It helps states design innovative programs that make health care more affordable for everyone, while providing Americans incentives to buy coverage they cannot afford now. And it roots out waste, fraud, and abuse that cost taxpayers billions, while reining in junk lawsuits that make health care more costly.

Most important, our plan gives middle-class families and small businesses better access to affordable health care without job-killing tax hikes and mandates that will deepen our economic crisis, leave more Americans out of work, and keep quality care out of reach for far too many. If the president is serious about true health care reform, he’ll urge congressional Democrats to scrap their costly government takeover and work with Republicans on better, bipartisan solutions.