My friend, family physician and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD, has my undying respect and admiration. When he speaks, I listen. So, his most recent piece on the healthcare reform legislation being hammered out behind closed doors caught my interest. I thought you’d find it compelling and recommend you share this with others:
As a doctor I swear to uphold the Hippocratic Oath, including to do no harm. As a Senator, I swear to uphold the United States Constitution. In the recent health care debate, principles from both have converged and I am sad to say that the Senate health care bill violates both of my oaths.
Below are twelve major concerns that should have every American’s attention:
1) Bailout for Insurance Companies
It is potentially unconstitutional for the federal government to force American’s to buy anything. Yet, the Senate health care reform bill will force Americans to give up to 8% of their salary to insurance companies. Even more insulting, the IRS will levy a $1,500 fine for failure to buy appropriate health insurance. This will leave the government and insurance companies in control of your health care rather than empower individuals and provide the necessary choice and access that will breed true reform.
2) Government Employees Will Decide What is Best for You and Your Family.
The bill specifies what every plan in America must cover and empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services and her team of unelected bureaucrats to add even more direct mandates that Congress does not have to approve. This limits choice and forces people to pay for plans and procedures that they may not need or want.
3) Premiums Increase
Nine in ten Americans will continue to see their premiums increase, making health care much less affordable or accessible. This alone, underscores the failure of Congress to address the central issue facing millions of Americans as they struggle to pay for medical care.
4) Tax Dollars Will Fund Abortions.
The bill, in a historic move, allows federally collected tax dollars to fund abortions. While states will be allowed to opt-out of offering abortions with the tax dollars that are allocated for their health programs, your tax dollars will now be used to end innocent human lives.
5) American’s Pay Fines But Illegal Aliens Get Free Care
The Senate compromise continues to allow illegal aliens to get free care in emergency rooms, but Americans will be punished by the IRS with a fine if they fail to purchase government-approved health insurance.
6) Sweet-heart Deals—The Washington Favor Factory is Alive and Well
There were many back room deals cut in the Senate that unfairly privilege certain states and private insurance companies at the expense of the rest of the nation. Below are just a fraction of the more notable deals:
Senator Chris Dodd (CT) succeeded in setting up a “competitive” $100 million earmark – not surprisingly, only Connecticut medical schools are eligible.
Senator Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Byron Dorgan made sure that the physicians from their home states would receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate than physicians in other states.
Senators John Kerry and Bernie Sanders were able to negotiate hundreds of millions of tax dollars to pay for the Massachusetts and Vermont Medicaid programs.
7) Reduces Medicare Payments
Medicare payments will be reduced by nearly a half trillion dollars over the next decade, with Medicare Advantage, hospital care, home health care, and nursing homes taking the largest hits.
8) The Federal Government Will Grow, Limiting Choice.
Congress ignored the real problems in health care today. Costs will continue to grow, access will continue to be limited, and government will grow—dramatically. Dozens of new federal programs will be created and thousands of new bureaucrats will be needed to make health decisions for you and your doctor.
9) Harms the Already Ailing Job Market.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan group that Harry Reid relied on to grade his bill’s impact on spending, the Senate health care bill “would reduce the hiring of low-wage workers.” The Senate bill imposes a $750 per worker penalty on employers who do not provide health coverage.
10) New Taxes
The Senate health care bill will result in hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes on Americans. The IRS will now go after Americans with higher medical expenses, small businesses, and even tanning salons. Not content with imposing socialized medicine on our country, the bill will punish Americans who choose to enroll in Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts. The latter is one of the few promising tools we have today to control costs and to give families the flexibility they need in purchasing medical care.
11) Fraud, Waste and Abuse in Current Federal Health Programs Ignored.
Medicare fraud is particularly concerning and is estimated to be up to $80 billion annually (15-20%) and improper payments are estimated to be as high as 13.5% annually. This bill fails to reform these programs, ensuring that your taxdollars will continue to be wasted.
12) Career Politicians Refused to Listen to the American People.
Harry Reid and Senate leadership blocked consideration of key amendments to protect Americans. Specifically, they rejected a simple, common sense amendment to require senators be given 72 hours to read and understand revisions to the bill. As a result, hundreds of pages were adopted with little time for senators or the American public to read them.