Crenshaw: Empty Promises vs. Real Solutions
America has the highest quality health care of any country in the world, but when millions of Americans can’t afford it and are left on the outside looking in, we’ve got a crisis. If cost and access are the two roots of the crisis, proposed reform must speak to both.
I’ve been listening to Floridians. All raise concerns about how proposed reforms will impact them. Will I get to choose my health plan or doctor? Will health care cost more? Will the government take over health care?
Now, I want to clearly respond to what is being proposed in Washington and how it will affect every American. On the table: the Democrats’ proposal for government-run health care versus the Republican alternative that offers more choices at less cost.
For a crisis characterized by high cost and lack of access, the Democrat plan is befuddling. First, with a price tag of $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, the plan actually increases health care costs. Doug Elmendorf, the Director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, commented: “The way I would put it is that the [cost] curve is being raised.” That’s right, Democrats actually want to increase the cost of health care, expanding the deficit by $239 billion over 10 years.
As if that was not enough, Democrats are increasing the deficit on the backs of the very Americans who are key to our economic recovery: small business owners. Since the mid-1990s, small businesses have created 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs. But small businesses often operate at the slimmest of profit margins—a third of all small businesses go out of business within the first two years. Nevertheless, House Democrats propose that if small businesses can’t afford to offer insurance, they must pay a penalty of an 8 percent payroll tax.
Instead of crushing small business with a burden they can’t bear, Republicans take the cost-effective approach of proposing that small businesses, the self employed, and others band together and purchase health insurance at lower costs resulting in coverage for more people. And no insurance plan can reject a consumer because of a pre-existing condition. Moreover, Republicans would attack high costs by implementing comprehensive medical liability reform. The practice of defensive medicine costs an estimated $100 billion-plus each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. We must eliminate costly, unnecessary defensive medicine being practiced by doctors trying to protect themselves. In the end, lower cost equals more access.
Democrats promise more access by introducing a government-run health care plan that will ‘keep private companies honest,’ but it’s an empty promise. Any government plan subsidized by taxpayers inevitably means it can control prices and undercut private plans, running them out of business. With price controls and a monopoly, Americans will end up with one choice: the government which is really no choice at all. Why don’t you hear this from Democrats? Because they don’t want you to know.
Republicans offer true choice by allowing individuals and families to choose their own doctor and get the treatment they need when they need it. If we really want to ‘keep private companies honest,’ let’s increase transparency in the health care system so consumers know what they are getting.
Plans that provide quality care for a fair price will survive and thrive, while plans that demand hefty premiums with little benefits will fall by the wayside. This is a formula imbedded in the fabric of America: choice breeds competition which spurs innovation and value. And it does not raise taxes or the deficit by a single cent.
There are clear problems with the system the way it is—health care in this country is on an unsustainable fiscal path. But any change is not necessarily good change—certainly not change that increases cost, hurts small businesses, and decreases access. With a plan that will affect every American, rich or poor, Congress needs to take the time to get it right. Only the Republican plan gets to the heart of the health care crisis by slashing costs through competition and increasing access through choice and transparency.