As the old adage goes, "Nothing good ever happens after midnight." It wasn't quite midnight when the House of Representatives voted to pass a government takeover of health care; it was closer to 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, but the 219 to 212 vote was not good news for our country.
I support providing quality, affordable health insurance to Americans, as well as keeping what works in our health care system. However, in their zeal to confront the challenges to our country's health care system, Democrats in Congress let the American people down.
Instead of listening to the concerns of the American people, the majority party managed to jam through a purely partisan bill which will transform 1/6th of our economy. This legislation fundamentally changes the way Americans live and conduct business, and it deserves meaningful, thoughtful bipartisan deliberation. Working behind closed doors to entice only Democrat votes is not bipartisanship.
What I've heard traveling throughout Nebraska's Third District, reading your letters, and taking your calls is you reject the 2,000-plus page bill which raises taxes, kills jobs, increases costs, and slashes Medicare to fund a government takeover of your health care. You reject a bill which empowers government bureaucrats to make health care decisions currently entrusted to doctors and patients and implements unreasonable, once-size-fits-all mandates.
The bill includes nearly $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage which will hurt millions of seniors. It raids Medicare to grow the size of government and pay for new entitlements.
The bill raises more than one-half trillion dollars in new taxes. These taxes -- coupled with the new regulations and bureaucracies created -- will hamstring small businesses at a time when nearly one in 10 Americans are out of work. It is estimated the IRS will need to hire 16,500 additional workers to enforce all the new taxes and penalties in this misguided health care plan.
The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency which estimates the cost of legislation, has stated this health care plan actually will increase federal deficits by $50 billion over the next ten years when factoring in billions of dollars in necessary spending not included in this bill.
Nebraskans deserve a common-sense, step-by-step approach to reform which lowers costs for families and small businesses and increases access to affordable, high-quality care. Instead of a government takeover which increases taxes and spending, Congress could work together in a fiscally disciplined, bipartisan manner to ensure fair competition in the insurance market, update provider payment reimbursements, remove barriers to access for individuals with preexisting conditions, and seek cost savings through malpractice reform.
We should allow people to purchase affordable insurance across state lines, allow small businesses to pool together to purchase plans at lower costs, expand access to affordable coverage by improving Health Savings Accounts, and encouraging states to implement reforms which make coverage more affordable.
Unfortunately, at such a crucial time, Democrats in Congress allowed haste to compromise their commitment to the American people. The public is rightly concerned with putting Washington in charge instead of patients, families, and doctors. While it is unclear exactly what the next steps are, what is crystal clear is you deserve better.