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We must listen to the American people on health care reform

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

This summer Democratic leaders in Congress introduced H.R. 3200, the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act”, which sets the tone for a Washington takeover of the health care system —one defined by federal regulation, mandates, a myriad of new big government programs, and a significant increase in federal spending and debt. 

At least two different independent analyses of the House Democrats’ health care legislation, which I strongly oppose, estimate that more than 100 million Americans would lose their current health care coverage. In addition to losing their health insurance, Americans are going to lose control over their health care decisions.  Under the Democrats’ vision, Washington would have ultimate control over what is best for patients, what treatments are acceptable, and how long patients wait for needed care.

Additionally, this misguided health care legislation is estimated to cost the federal government as much as $1.5 trillion.  To pay for this massive new government expansion the legislation contains $820 billion in new job-killing tax increases imposed on certain income filers, a majority of whom are small businesses, even while the country remains in a serious recession. 

Just a few weeks ago, I held a series of in-person town hall meetings, which were attended by over 1,500 folks from all across the 6th Congressional District. In addition, I conducted telephone town hall meetings which allowed me the opportunity to speak with over 25,000 of my constituents and answer their questions on health care reform.  In all instances, we had very productive discussions regarding the current proposals being considered by Congress.

The majority of my constituents had the same questions and concerns that were raised at town hall meetings across the country. As I took questions at random, both in-person and over the telephone, I overwhelmingly heard folks express their opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform proposal.  They were extremely concerned about the cuts to the Medicare program, the potential for a rationing of health care, the mandate that they carry health insurance, and the lack of choice.

In addition to taking questions, I invited everyone on my telephone town hall meeting to participate in a poll where I asked them ‘do you trust Washington bureaucrats to decide what health care benefits you will receive?’  Eighty-eight percent, an overwhelming majority, responded that they did not trust Washington bureaucrats to be making health care decisions for them.

While we can all agree that our current health care system is flawed there are many different ideas about how to fix it.  Republicans have solutions that will empower patients with choices, make high quality coverage more affordable, and protect and preserve the doctor-patient relationship.  The most important principles in health care reform are holding down costs and preserving consumer choices.  We already spend far more per person than any other country in the world.  Reform must be bipartisan and must mean using the health care dollars we now spend in a smarter, more effective way.  We should be preserving and enhancing the ability of people to choose the plans that are tailored to their needs and the doctors that they trust to guide them, not putting more power in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.