Friday, August 28, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "Washington-Run Health Care" by Rep. Boehner

By Rep. John Boehner

“Ohio families and small businesses looking for relief from the rising cost of health care won’t find it in a Washington-run system. In fact, there are dozens of provisions tucked within the 1,100 pages of H.R. 3200 that will raise costs, limit options for patients, and increase the clout of politicians at the expense of the American people.

“For example, Section 1181(b) of the Democrats’ bill would impose government price controls on Part D of the Medicare program. It eliminates the primary reason Part D has cost taxpayers 40 percent less than estimated: private market competition. Analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms that this provision will raise prescription drug prices for everyone. Americans are already paying too much for health care – this won’t help.

“Neither will Section 412 which says if you’re a small business owner you have to offer your employees a government-approved health care plan or pay a new eight percent ‘small business tax.’ Even if you provide your employees coverage, Washington bureaucrats can deem it insufficient and force you to pay up. Section 313 makes sure that small businesses with as few as 12 employees would pay the new tax too -- even if they can’t afford to provide their employees with coverage to begin with.

“The same rule applies to you, personally. If you don't purchase health insurance the government deems acceptable, Section 401 forces you to pay an additional 2.5 percent income tax.

“Of course, even if you have a health care plan you like, your provider will still have to compete with the government – and the deck will be stacked against them.

“Section 222 forces taxpayers to provide a ten-year interest-free loan to the government-run plan to cover claims and Section 223 protects the government from being sued for price-fixing. What private plans can compete against these taxpayer-backed advantages? As private companies drop beneficiaries, more Americans will be dumped into the government plan.

“Then there’s Section 1161 which cuts $160 billion from Medicare Advantage, the popular program that provides nearly 11 million seniors – including many in rural areas of our own district – with access to private health care plans. These plans offer seniors more flexibility and treatment options than regular Medicare, including better preventive and coordinated care. But thanks to these cuts, millions of seniors will be forced into a government-run plan with fewer choices and lower quality care.

“This is what you find when you examine massive pieces of legislation that are written behind closed doors. If most Americans had time to review bills like these, they’d never make it through Congress without significant changes – if it all.

“That’s why many supporters of a government takeover of health care desperately wanted a rushed vote on H.R. 3200 before Congress left Washington for August. And it’s why these same lawmakers forced quick votes on the jobs-killing national energy tax (‘cap and trade’) and the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ spending bill.

“They know their big government bills don’t work as advertised: a ‘stimulus’ spending bill that isn’t creating jobs, an energy bill that would devastate Ohio’s energy industries, and now a health care bill that would make health care more expensive. And they know the more Americans learn about these bills, the less they support them.

“Bottom line: a government takeover of health care won’t work. To make health care more affordable we need to rein in junk lawsuits that drive up costs, help small businesses provide coverage, and reform and strengthen the current system so it’s easier for workers to take coverage from job-to-job. I hope you’ll take time to read more on these and other common sense solutions at”

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.