House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and the House of Representatives on Sunday passed the most sweeping changes to health care in U.S. history. It was quite a process. In the end, the vote was close — 219-212 — and represents a fundamental change in the lives of the American people.
I’ve been involved in the ongoing American conversation on health-care reform from the beginning. Last summer, I hosted a town-hall meeting on health care. Noozhawk carried my take on the “community information sessions” hosted by Capps. I also wrote an editorial on the then-proposed health-care bill and discussed what was right, what was wrong and what was missing.
After more than a year of debate, the House passed not just a flawed bill, but a fundamentally disastrous bill. The process was marked by the worst of Washington — backroom deals and sinister procedural maneuvers. The fact that President Barack Obama had so many Democrats defect means that this is either a complete failure of leadership or that Obama is a radical like this country has never seen. Or both.
Capps and I couldn’t have a more different approach when it comes to health-care reform. In November, voters will have the opportunity to decide who they think is right. Capps is focused entirely on access to health care and not on the cost. By doing so, one of a few possibilities are guaranteed to take place. Either we’ll have access at the cost of millions of dollars of new taxes, or health care will be rationed.
I believe that by focusing on the cost of health care, we can make it more affordable and thus increase access for millions of Americans. Furthermore, I believe the bill supported by Capps and passed by the House is in direct violation of the Constitution. The bill would require that millions of Americans purchase health-care insurance that they don’t need or don’t want, or face a tax of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income.
That’s just one reason that as your congressman, I would have voted against the bill passed Sunday. Other reasons include:
» Raises taxes. The bill increases taxes by $569.2 billion over 10 years. This will harm small businesses and middle-class families. The bill also includes $523.5 billion in cuts to Medicare, cutting benefits and raising premiums on seniors. These cuts are not used to reduce the deficit, but instead to create new entitlement programs.
» Cost to taxpayers. The total cost of the Senate bill with the changes in the reconciliation bill is nearly $1.2 trillion (not including the $371 billion “Doc Fix” proposed in the president’s budget). Furthermore, when including the cost to states of the mandated Medicaid expansion ($20 billion), as well as authorized discretionary spending for grants, public programs, changes and funding for a variety of agencies that would be responsible for implementing the Senate bill (up to $114 billion according to the Senate Budget Committee Republican staff), the total cost of the bill is more like $1.33 trillion. Finally, the bill costs $2.47 trillion counting just the first 10 years after it’s implemented.
» Government takeover. The bill is a dramatic step away from personal, private coverage and choice to a Washington-controlled health-care system that rations care, limits choice, and reduces quality, innovation and competition.
» Illegal immigrants. The bill fails to adequately address citizen verification for individuals applying for low-income affordability subsidies, or enrolling in Medicaid/CHIP, or enrolling in high-risk pools.
» Funds abortions. The bill permits federal funds to be spent on abortion services.
» Lack of medical liability reform. Trial lawyers get off scot-free as Democrats pay lip service to real medical-malpractice reform. Virtually no changes occurred from the insufficient medical liability provisions as passed in the Senate bill.
» Forces Americans out of current plans. The government-run plan will force tens of millions out of the coverage they have. Even “grandfathered” plans are not safe.
» Increases premiums. The Democrats’ health-care plan will increase premiums 10 percent to 13 percent. As the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Budget Office and six other studies have shown, imposing new taxes on insurance policies, health-care products and various new insurance regulations will be drive up the cost for patients of all ages in the form of higher premiums.
» Increases personal health expenditures. The Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services predicts overall national health expenditures under the Senate bill because various regulations will jump 0.6 percent, or $222 billion (if Medicare cuts are allowed to occur, which CBO has doubts about).
» Bends the curve in the wrong direction. According to the CBO, “Under the legislation, federal outlays for health care would increase during the 2010-19 period, as would the federal budgetary commitment to health care.” The CBO estimates that the federal commitment would increase by about $210 billion.
» Constitutes a massive, permanent government takeover of the private student loan industry. Liberals have been trying to achieve this goal since the early-1990s, when the Direct Loan program (the government-run program) was created. This student loan bill has no place in a health-care bill. The only reason Democrats are placing the student-loan provisions into the reconciliation bill is because they don’t have 60 votes in the Senate to pass it on its own.
» Chock full of special deals. The bill includes new backroom deals such as the “Bismark Bank Job” and old favorites such as the “Louisiana Purchase,” various provisions still part of the “Cornhusker kickback,” carve-outs for unions and many more.
» Doesn’t factor in market risk regarding defaults on student loans. The CBO score for the student-loan portions of the bill doesn’t fully account for the cost of market risk (inevitable defaults on loans). Adjusting for the cost of market risk will increase the cost of the bill.
» Potentially eliminates more than 30,000 jobs. The bill will eliminate the jobs of those involved in the private student-loan industry.
I believe that when it comes to health-care reform, Americans want three things: greater access, diminishing costs and no compromise in quality.
The best way we can ensure that an increasing number of Americans have access to health care is to bring the cost of health care down. The bill passed by the House in no way addresses the cost of health care. It is crucial that we don’t give up the fight.
Today, Capps had the vote. But in November, the people have the vote.
— Clark Vandeventer is a Republican congressional candidate in the 23rd District. Click here to learn more about his campaign.