Montgomery County Republican Women
February 24, 2011
Becky Norton Dunlop
Thank you Sarah, Madam President Alice, and my good friend Brigitte Izzo for the opportunity to be here today with these great Montgomery County Republican Women and Men. I am delighted to be in your company.
I want to speak about one of the most debated topics in our nation today – Obamacare.
America is the most beautiful, most free, and most prosperous nation on Earth because of the intellect of our people and the God-given freedoms that we enjoy. Our great achievements in science and medicine, highest worker productivity in the world and unprecedented wealth creation by any nation in the history of civilization are not the result of government intrusion and bureaucracy, but the result of the genius of the free people performing at their best.
Our healthcare institutions and the quality of care they deliver are unmatched anywhere in the world. The problem we face with our healthcare system has nothing to do with the expertise and knowledge of our doctors or the compassion of our nursing care since these two aspects of our healthcare system are far superior to any other nation’s.
We are all aware that our country is need of some crucial healthcare reform. But the healthcare proposal that The Obama-Reid-Pelosi Administration has passed, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” will not only lead our healthcare system into a bureaucratized and politicized state, it will also have profound implications on our taxpayers, providers, and patients.
The Congressional mandate on American citizens to purchase health insurance is unprecedented. It is an unconstitutional violation of personal liberty. In his ruling on the case of Florida vs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson struck down the massive Obamacare bill as unconstitutional. Also, Judge Hudson, in his decision in the Virginia case, struck down parts of the bill as unconstitutional.
With full implementation of Obamacare, the structure of our healthcare system will change. It will be determined by one central authority, the federal government; this will reduce flexibility and deny Americans the ability to make their own choices.
Obamacare gives the government power to determine what is quality health care, who has improved access to care and exactly what increased efficiency of delivery will mean. In essence, the people – and their personal doctors – will no longer be in charge of determining what is best for them when it comes to their own individual health care needs.
The link between Administration actions and changes in health care delivery will not always be clear to patients and their providers: government’s actions will largely be hidden behind the screen provided by the different actors it controls – insurance companies, states and the new purchasing exchanges.
The lack of clarity in the legislation is another downside of the bill. Obamacare gives the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) power to define “essential health benefits.” If for example, diagnostic services are included in this category, will the definition list MRI scans as a required diagnostic procedure rather than x-rays which are less expensive but often completely satisfactory?
The federal bureaucracy is given vast, but undefined, power to determine the care that must be covered by insurance plans. It will determine what kind of care is available to Americans who purchase insurance through the exchanges, how much the insurance will cost, the extent of taxpayer subsidies, or just whose health care you will pay for.
Obamacare will have tremendous negative economic effects on our nation. It threatens increased numbers of uninsured, more cost-shifting, and further market destabilization. Even with the supposed mandate, CBO estimates that in 10 years, 23 million Americans will remain without insurance. Given the law’s extremely complex health insurance rules, there will be incentives for millions of Americans to go without coverage because of the high premiums they will face. So, exactly how is this helping solve the problem of the un-insured?
Obamacare makes $575 billion in projected cuts to Medicare, threatening seniors’ access to care; also, Medicare payments to physicians are scheduled to be cut as well under the “sustainable growth rate formula.” This will lead to physicians denying care to Medicare patients – in fact, this is already occurring.
Obamacare imposes numerous tax hikes that transfer more than $500 billion over 10 years - and more in the future - from hardworking American families and businesses to Congress for spending on new entitlements and subsidies; higher tax rates on working and investing will discourage economic growth both now and in the future, further lowering the standard of living. These tax increases include 18 separate taxes that will cost taxpayers $503 billion between 2010 and 2019 resulting in slower economic growth, reduction in employment, and suppressed wages.
Obamacare restricts the ability of insurers and employer self-insured health plans to impose limits on the amount of services patients can have; this combination will increase health plan costs and premiums for both individual insurance and employer-group coverage. One example I learned about recently related to the Massachusetts plan. It provides unlimited access to invitro-fertilization, so people are moving to Massachusetts for 2-3 years to take advantage of this unlimited very expensive benefit.
Obamacare leaves room for uncertainty and legal jeopardy for employers and insurers. For example, one of the new preventive care requirements is that plans pay for “intensive behavioral dietary counseling for adult patients with hyperlipidemia and other known risk factors for cardiovascular and diet-related chronic disease.” Employers and insurers are left to determine how much of those services, and which patients, the law requires them to pay for, with the potential for costly litigation if a beneficiary disputes their interpretation.
You just heard some of the different personal and economic consequences that this new legislation will have on our country and its people. Now let’s talk about some of the real reforms we should focus our efforts on.
The budget process reform should enforce policy changes that reduce the size of the federal government, reduce out-of-control spending, and prohibit any tax increase on the American people.
To really reduce deficit spending, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security must be reformed. Mandatory spending on entitlements should be put on long-term budget. Entitlement spending is currently on autopilot, allowing open-ended growth; automatic adjustments or triggers should be put in place to reduce spending if Congress fails to act.
Medicare should be transformed to a limited, defined-contribution system that allows seniors to seek better value by purchasing a health care plan that suits their needs in the private market.
Medicaid reform should limit taxpayer funding but give states greater flexibility to administer their respective programs while also creating the opportunity for beneficiaries to receive better quality coverage in the private market.
Instead of the federal government regulating health insurance benefits, state governments should make their insurance markets more responsive to patients’ needs and preferences by enacting their own health insurance reforms. One important idea to consider is often mentioned by Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and that is to de-link insurance from employment – a bold and big idea that would be a great step.
Lawmakers need to advocate a patient-centered health care system to maximize value for individuals and families so that they receive more benefit and better results for their healthcare dollars, both as patients and as consumers buying health insurance.
For real patient-centered, consumer-driven health care reform, policymakers should ensure that their legislative proposals embody 6 key principles:
• Individuals are the key decision makers in the health care system.
• Individuals buy and own their own health insurance coverage.
• Individuals choose their own health insurance coverage.
• Individuals have a wide range of coverage choices.
• Prices are transparent
• Individuals have the periodic opportunity to change health
So, what are we to do? We citizens? Join Heritage!
• Get the message clear – REPEAL
- Senate – press KBH and John Cornyn hard!
- Obama POTUS change is needed
• Learn about the state’s position
- Have Rick Perry speak
- State legislative actions
• Take personal responsibility now for yourself and your family
- Personal fitness/diet
• Help educate others
- Tea Party people
- All GOP organizations
- Service clubs (Rotary)
- Church organizations
Thank you for allowing me to speak to you all today. God bless you and God bless America.