The Right Path To Health Care Reform

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by U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona)

The continuing health care debate in Washington is centered on how we can assure all Americans have access to quality health care, while also making health care more affordable and reducing costs.

Republicans have put forward sensible ideas to achieve these goals, including rooting out Medicare and Medicaid fraud, strengthening wellness and prevention programs that encourage healthy living, reforming medical liability laws to discourage frivolous lawsuits, and allowing small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance, just as large corporations do.

Most of these changes would not cost taxpayers a dime, and they do not require a government takeover of the health care system, or massive new spending, job-killing taxes, and rationing of care.

Democrats in Congress have a different — and economically detrimental — approach. Their plan would increase spending by more than $2 trillion when fully implemented, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “could do catastrophic harm to the economy.”

It would empower Washington bureaucrats, not doctors and patients, to make health care decisions. A study by the health care experts at the Lewin Group shows it would also move millions of people who are happy with their current insurance to a new government plan. So, when the president says you can keep your current coverage if you like it, it’s not true.

Democrats propose to pay for this new Washington-run health care system, in part, through new taxes that would affect the majority of small-business owners and would make taxes on America’s small businesses among the highest taxes on companies worldwide.

Small businesses generate about two-thirds of new jobs. A new study by the Kaufman Foundation shows that America’s entrepreneurs have led America out of its last seven post-World War II recessions. Raising their taxes would harm job creation, especially jobs that would be created for low-wage earners, according to a Harvard economist.

So, there’s ample reason to be skeptical when the president tells us that we need to pass the Democrats’ bill to help the economy.

The president and Congressional Democrats have also proposed cutting Medicare to pay for their plan.

There’s no justification for dipping into funds for seniors’ care to pay for a new government plan, especially since Medicare is already running deep deficits. Medicare cuts would ultimately lead to shortages, rationing, and the elimination of private-plan choices. Our seniors want us to strengthen Medicare and make it solvent. They don’t want a sudden drop in the quality of care Medicare beneficiaries now receive.

Despite these serious concerns, the president and Democrats in Congress insist we must rush this plan through, just as they insisted we rush through the $1.2 trillion stimulus bill.

Why the rush? Because the more Americans know about the Democrats’ health care bill, the more they oppose it.

But for reform this sweeping, it’s more important to do it right, than to do it quickly.

Republicans do not want a government takeover of health care that will jeopardize Americans’ current coverage, ration care, spend trillions of dollars, and create mountains of new debt and higher taxes.

We believe we must draw the line on higher taxes, spending, and debt in favor of real reform.

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is the Assistant Republican Leader and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his Web site at www.kyl.senate.gov.

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