Thursday, October 29, 2009

Westmoreland: Opponents of Government Takeover Will Have Voices Heard

Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled their final 2,000-page health care plan (HR 3962) after weeks of Democrat-only, closed-door negotiations.

“Apparently, because this is health care legislation, the House Democrats thought doctor-patient confidentiality rules should apply to their secret negotiations,” U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland said. “The voices of those opposed to a government takeover of health care have been shut out of this debate. We got a taste of how strongly people feel on this issue during the August town halls, and I think those voices that Pelosi ignored will be heard loudly in the coming days.”

Westmoreland took issue with House Majority Leader’s Steny Hoyer’s assertion that the legislation meets an “urgent” need.

“Republicans and Democrats agree that we have too many uninsured Americans and too many family tragedies related to health care costs,” Westmoreland said. “But let’s be clear: This legislation won’t meet those needs urgently. In fact, benefits don’t take affect for three more years. The only thing that the Democrats think is ‘urgent’ enough to enact immediately are the tax hikes and mandates that will kill off even more jobs in this ailing economy.”

Westmoreland cites several tenets of the bill as problematic:

· $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, which Westmoreland sees as either ‘phantom cuts’ that will never take place or catastrophic for seniors’ health care coverage.

· Bill contains the word “shall” 3,425 times – that’s a lot of government mandates.

· Expanding eligibility for Medicaid, which will hike costs for budget-strapped state governments.

· Tax hikes on small business owners, whom we’re relying on to create new jobs in this economy.

· Mandates on business to provide coverage to all employees or face penalties, creating a “tax on jobs” that will lead to fewer jobs.

· A government-run ‘public option’ that will eventually crowd out private plans, causing many Americans to lose their current coverage.

· The legislation’s financing will cost much more than advertised, placing yet another burden on our national debt. The legislation comes in below $1 trillion over 10 years only because 1) Democrats moved the cost of paying Medicare fees to doctors (more than $200 billion) into another bill and 2) they count 10 years of revenues but only seven years of expenses.

Westmoreland points out that, contrary to Democratic claims that the Republicans are simply the “Party of No,” the GOP has offered an alternative called the Empowering Patients First Act. This legislation, HR 3400, would 1) make access to coverage affordable for all Americans; 2) make coverage truly owned and controlled by the patient; 3) improve the healthcare delivery structure; and 4) rein in out-of-control costs, including through robust liability reform.
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