COLUMNIST: Health proposal too expensive, intrusive to be good for nation

July 13, 2010
In The News

This op-ed appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette
COLUMNIST: Health proposal too expensive, intrusive to be good for nation
August 07, 2009 6:30 PM
By Doug Lamborn
There they go again. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama, apparently not content to just take over the auto industry, the financial industry, and the energy industry, are now intent on nationalizing our health care system. It would be a disaster for both our economy and our health.
I realize that many families and small businesses are struggling to pay higher medical premiums, and I am committed to bringing down those costs. However, creating a massive European-style government-controlled health care system will not reduce costs. That is the testimony of Douglas Elmendorf, the head of the independent Congressional Budget Office. He recently told a Senate committee that costs will only increase under the Democrat’s misguided reform plans.
The CBO estimates taxpayers will pay more than $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years for a government-run free health care plan. To try to pay for this, Democrats want to impose a new 8 percentage point payroll tax on employers who don’t provide health insurance for employees. Businesses will also have to pay the majority of the cost of employees’ premiums, which will come right out of wages and profits, and both individuals and small businesses will pay expensive surcharges depending on their income. These kinds of tax hikes will inevitably lead to job cuts and ultimately the same chronic unemployment Europe has experienced under nationalized health care. Obama’s own chief economic advisor, Christina Romer, has estimated that the economy will shed an additional 4.7 million jobs as a result of additional business taxes.
If you like your insurance now, as the majority of Americans do, under Democrat reform plans, you probably won’t be able to keep it. The non-partisan Lewin group estimates 114 million workers would be forced out of their private insurance plans and onto government rolls. That’s because when the government enters the insurance business, it has a built-in, unfair advantage over private sector insurance companies. The government plan would not be operating on a level playing field because it would set the rules. It does not have to operate at a profit.
The House Democrats’ plan would create a new health care czar. This unelected bureaucrat would have unprecedented and unrestricted authority to determine what is "acceptable" health care coverage. He would set all the rules for what health care coverage must include in addition to what treatments patients are allowed to receive and at what cost.
You can be assured that before expensive cancer or other treatment is authorized, the cost of treatment will be compared to the patient’s "quality of life," just like in all the other nationalized plans. Senior citizens and the disabled should beware.
Besides seniors, other groups who lose out are young and healthy people who will subsidize everyone else by being forced to pay far higher insurance premiums than their actuarial cost.
Otherwise, they will pay a 2.5 percent penalty on their income. Providers such as doctors and hospitals will be hammered with stringent reimbursement rates, which is where a lot of the "savings" will come from.
Pharmaceutical companies will have their profits slashed as part of their "contribution," which means research and development will dry up, which ends up costing all of us in the future as fewer live-saving drugs come to the market.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, this legislation would fund abortion at taxpayer expense. This hurts everyone who doesn’t want their tax dollars paying for the abortions of others.
The good news is that if we reject nationalized health care, there are many free-market reforms that can lower the cost of health care. I support common-sense solutions such as giving the same tax breaks corporations enjoy to everyone who purchases health insurance on their own. I would like to provide immediate and substantial financial assistance, through new tax credits, to low- and modest-income Americans.
I also support allowing states, small businesses, associations, and other organizations to band together and offer health insurance at lower costs.
We can do this right through common-sense reforms that keep Americans in control of their own health care. We must not go down the road toward socialized care that will leave us worse off.
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Lamborn represents Congressional District 5 in the U.S. House of Representatives.