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Health care reform puts health of the U.S. at risk

POSTED: July 22, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Despite President Barack Obama’s utopian fantasy to provide “free” health care to all Americans, Congress cannot help but make someone pay the price for such reform. 

  

Under the proposal from House Democratic leaders, about $1 trillion would be paid for by taxing high income earning families, businesses and medical providers. 

  

The Senate’s $600 billion proposal is not as high, but represents costly government bureaucracy by requiring everyone to have health insurance and employers contribute to the cost.  Both plans levy expense on the taxpayer, be it affluent Americans today or the middle class tomorrow.  In my opinion, taxes have never made anyone wealthy.  

  

Washington leaders are selling health care reform with an outrageous price tag by pledging their commitment to easing medical costs for the middle class. 

  

It is true that rising health care costs must be controlled, as 27 percent of middle-income Georgia families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care. However, driving up the federal deficit to amounts never before seen in history will do nothing to save money for future generations of middle class Americans.    

  

In June, the federal deficit reached $1.1 trillion.  Our deficit is 13 percent or more of the gross domestic product, making it this country’s largest deficit since the end of World War II in 1945 when it reached 21.5 percent. 

  

On orders from President Obama, Congress is determined that within just three short weeks they will make the biggest change to our country’s health care system in more than 40 years. 

  

Congressional Republicans are calling the House’s 1,000 page bill a “web of bureaucracy,” divvying up health care programs between multiple government agencies and putting the president and Congress in charge of the entire system. 

  

Under this proposal, patients can look forward to being accompanied by a government official in every medical decision they make, from choosing an insurance company, seeing a doctor, and getting the medication they need. 

  

Looking at the government’s track record in managing health care systems does not inspire much confidence. 

  

In 1965, the government created Medicare to provide care for the poor and elderly. Today, this government-run system is a contributing factor to today’s exorbitant health care costs. 

  

Even Obama’s own economic advisers warn that with no reduction in spending, Medicare and Medicaid costs could increase from six to 15 percent by 2040, totaling a third of current federal spending.

  

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with 30 other major business groups, told Congress the House’s idea for reform could kill U.S. employment.

  

As we watch Georgia’s unemployment rate soar to over 10 percent, we cannot afford to shed any more jobs.

  

The president’s answer to solving America’s problems is to inject more government bureaucracy into the veins of our economy.  Unfortunately, government is not always the solution.

  

A real health care reform plan must put the individual in charge of their health care.  As I have said before, without individual responsibility, rapid derailment of the health care system is inevitable.  Here are the components of a sound health care reform plan:

  

• Personally owned, totally portable and tax deductible cafeteria-style health insurance plan with low premiums and higher deductibles.

  

• Personal, tax free medical savings accounts required for everyone which provides payments of  deductibles, non covered and elective items, and long term care.

  

• Personal General Practitioner relationships on fixed cost personal and family plans that are tax deductible.  Many of these exist today.

  

Without the above components, personal responsibility and a voucher system to match costs for the indigent, affordable quality health care will become unattainable for most Americans.  

  

The 72 cents of every health care dollar spent and passed through government agencies will quickly escalate to 100 cents.  

  

Recent demographic trends also threaten to push costs higher, with potentially 60 percent of lifetime health care dollars being spent in the last six months of life to prolong the inevitable, combined with the retiring of the Baby Boomer generation, the largest in history.  While there is little time to waste in resolving this issue, we must be careful to implement the right kind of reform that protects the health of American citizens and the nation.  

  

Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens, and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties.  He may be reached at  (404) 656-9921 or via e-mail at chip.pearson@senate.ga.gov. 

 

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