Friday, August 14, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "Competing Health Care Proposals" by Rep. John Boehner

By Rep. John Boehner

“Health care is the dominant issue this summer and for good reason: families and small businesses are already spending too much for it and costs just keep going up. Despite several expensive government programs like Medicaid and SCHIP, affordable coverage remains out of reach for too many Americans. And the dominant proposal in Washington will only make things worse.

“Today I’d like to compare two very different ideas for solving this national problem and spotlight the reforms I believe will work.

“The first proposal making its way through Congress would create a Washington-run health care plan – a ‘public option’ – that will cost taxpayers upwards of $1.6 trillion. It creates a series of new government agencies, boards, and commissions – 53 in all, so far – and it imposes new mandates, a small business tax, and deep cuts to Medicare to pay for them all.

“I do not support this plan. A ‘public option’ would quickly become ‘the only option,’ crowding out private health care providers and kicking millions of workers out of their current health coverage – whether they like it or not – and forcing them into a government-run plan.

“Analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows a government takeover won’t make health care any less expensive. And as costs continue to skyrocket, the politicians and bureaucrats in charge of the plan will inevitably limit patients’ choices and cut back on treatment options – and it would still leave millions of Americans uninsured.

“The President recently compared this government plan to the United States Postal Service. Much like the Post Office, which is running a $7 billion deficit, the CBO says a government takeover of health care would run a deficit too, only this deficit will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars – more debt that our children and grandchildren will have to repay.

“This plan is also a jobs-killer. Models developed by the President’s own economic advisor show that the combination of new taxes and mandates would destroy more than 4 million jobs.

“If our goal is to spend a lot of money for lousy results, a government takeover of health care will do just fine. But if we want to lower health care costs without raising taxes or putting taxpayers on the line for trillions of dollars in new government spending, there is a much better solution.

“The second proposal – the one I support – is patient-focused, not government-focused. It would lower health care costs without creating new government programs or raising taxes.

“This plan scraps some of the worst parts of our current system, reining in the junk lawsuits that drive up costs on everyone. It helps small businesses band together across state lines to provide their employees with high-quality, low-cost coverage – the same coverage provided by big companies and unions. As I’ve said before, if a company like General Electric can do it, why not a local restaurant?

“This proposal uses targeted tax relief to help businesses cover the administrative costs of providing coverage. It offers incentives to low-income families, giving everyone access to coverage they can afford.

“And remember how we successfully tackled welfare reform in the 1990s? This common sense plan takes a similar approach and gives state governments the tools they need to design innovative programs that make health care more affordable.

“When I was running my small business in Cincinnati, I made sure my employees had high-quality health coverage. I know how difficult and costly it can be. And I know what we have to do to make it more affordable. I encourage you to visit my website at to read more and let me know what you think.”

Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, most of Butler and Mercer counties, and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.