The Ripon Forum

Volume 44, No. 1

Winter 2010 Issue

Health Care Reform Reality Check

By on October 23, 2014

Why I support health care reform but Oppose what the Democrats are trying to do


In a desperate attempt by Senate Democrats to “make history” a health care bill was crafted behind closed doors. The voices of the people were ignored. Backroom deals were cut to buy last minute votes, and a bill was jammed through on Christmas Eve as if Americans wouldn’t notice. The Senate Democrats certainly made history; they made a mistake of historic proportions. As a result, Americans still have a broken health care system and rapidly disintegrating faith that Congress can fix it. I believe we can achieve health care reform, but only if we start over and focus on reducing the costs, improving quality and not adding to the nation’s debt.

Obama’s health care plan would restructure one-sixth of the economy and drastically shape the future of America. Something of this magnitude should never be constructed on a partisan basis and should never exclude the voices of the people. I voted against the Senate bill because it would increase insurance premiums and taxes, slash Medicare benefits and essentially create a new entitlement program during a time when mandatory spending is strangling the country’s financial health.

I believe we can achieve health care reform, but only if we start over and focus on reducing the costs, improving quality and not adding to the nation’s debt.

The health care debate has proven to be an emotionally charged issue causing frustrations to grow among Americans as we witnessed the Obama administration break promise after promise. In a September speech before Congress, President Obama pledged to oppose any bill that would add to the federal deficit. However, he later applauded the passage of both the House and Senate bills despite the fact that the federal deficit would increase dramatically under either proposal. The president also promised a bipartisan approach with a transparent process where negotiations would be broadcast over C-SPAN and the final bill would be available online for all to read 72 hours before a vote. Neither occurred. Instead, the bill was created by a select few and without any input from Republicans. What’s more, because none of the promised broadcasts appeared, the American public never witnessed any of the negotiations. Not even the senators had enough time to read the entire bill prior to the Christmas Eve vote.

On January 19, voters in Massachusetts responded and spoke loud and clear on behalf of Americans everywhere by electing Scott Brown to become the 41st vote needed in the Senate to block the health care legislation. Brown’s victory brings new hope to the fight against a government takeover of health care and the opportunity for Congress to start over and get it right.

Although the health care debate is badly bruised, the fight is not over. Congress must create a new way to move forward:

First and foremost, we must address the issue of costs. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average premium for a family receiving health care benefits through an employer rose above $13,300 in 2009 with employers paying more than $9,800 of that, while the workers contributed the rest. Workers also faced larger deductibles and co-payments despite receiving fewer benefits. The Kaiser study estimates that if we continue to see the trend of the last 10 years, health insurance premiums in 2019 will almost triple. These numbers, coupled with the statistics on how much our government spends on health care, is a strong reason why we cannot ignore reforming the health care system.

Congress must commit to considering only legislation that would turn the cost curve down. We need legislation that is market-based and allows insurance companies to reduce costs as they compete for business. Crafting a bill that provides affordable health care for Americans without adding to our national debt is possible and settling for anything less would be a mistake.

Second, we must provide Americans with choice and portability. Today, more than half of American workers who have employer-provided health insurance have no say in the type of coverage they receive. We need to empower individuals with the ability to choose the plan that best suits their needs. Once Americans have chosen health care coverage that works for them, they should be able to keep it. Insurance should be portable so individuals don’t feel locked in a job they don’t like for fear of losing their health care coverage.

…we need to recognize the great progress that has been made on a state level and ensure that federal legislation does not undo the successful innovations already in place.

Finally, we need to recognize the great progress that has been made on a state level and ensure that federal legislation does not undo the successful innovations already in place. The state of Utah has been a leader in creating a market-based, innovative program that is specifically tailored to the needs of Utahns. Congress must encourage states to develop these promising models and not undo the success of programs already in place.

Every member of Congress agrees that we need to reform the health care system and bring down the unsustainable rate of growth in health care costs. However, Congress must focus on fixing the problems rather than rushing through haphazardly simply to claim victory and make history. We need to start over and get it done right.

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Bob Bennett is a United States Senator from the State of Utah.

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