Jul 17 2009
Your insurance company?
Politicians and bureaucrats in Washington?
Or you, in consultation with your doctor?
I trust that you, like me, believe that it should be your right to make these most personal decisions that in some cases literally could have life and death consequences.
As a two time cancer survivor and a practicing physician, I know that when patients are confronted with a serious health ailment, they want the best medical advice. Few in such situations would seek out the advice or consent of a bureaucrat or politician, yet there is an effort underway in Washington to expand the power of the federal government over your health care decisions as well as the entire U.S. health care system.
There is no question that there are many problems in how health care is delivered in our nation and reform is much needed: Costs are too high, too many patients do not have health insurance, insurance often does not cover medically necessary care, and most Americans have little control over their own health coverage.
Increasing the government's role in health care will not solve any of these problems. In fact, increased government involvement will actually increase costs, reduce patient control and create new problems. Consider that the same federal government that has run up over $11 trillion in debt, that failed repeatedly in nearly every attempt to clean up after Hurricane Katrina, that helped create the banking and credit crisis that has severely damaged our economy and caused immeasurable financial losses to families across the country would be managing your healthcare and the healthcare of everyone else in our nation.
After four weeks of debate in which I offered hundreds of amendments, unfortunately, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has passed its government-run health care plan and has sent it on to the full Senate for review. Congressional leaders are plotting to cram through the bill before Congress leaves for its August break. While advocates of socialized medicine will use terms like "public option" or make guarantees that you can keep your current insurance under their plan, the truth is if this proposal becomes law, federal bureaucrats will soon stand between you and your doctor and will use something called "comparative effectiveness" to ration health care and to decide what kind of care you will be allowed to receive.
Under this approach, a government bureaucrat will decide if you are worthy of the treatments and medications that you and your doctor decide upon, regardless of your doctor's medical expertise or your most urgent needs. You will no longer get to decide what is best for you or your family. This is the same plan used in Europe that has led to rationing, and to patients waiting months and sometimes years for life-saving care.
I do not use this term lightly, but I view this plan as un-American.
Previous generations have given us a great legacy of individual freedom, of personal responsibility, and of free economies. As a result, we have been blessed by unequaled innovation and some of the greatest medical advances in world history. In fact, the vast majority of medical breakthroughs happen in our country. That is no accident.
As I have said before, I am under no illusion that our health care system today is perfect. As a physician I see all of the problems up close and very personal. Costs are spiraling out of control. Access to affordable, quality care is often limited. Insurance companies all too often get in the way.
That experience also tells me that the source of these ills is most often the federal government itself. Federal rules and regulations now dominate nearly two-thirds of health care today. Yet, the solution in Washington today is more government.
I reject that notion, and I intend to be a leading voice against socialized medicine and for fixing the real problems in health care. I believe that you and your doctor know best. I do not think the government, an insurance company, or even your employer for that matter, should dictate life or death health care decisions.
On this issue, I see no room for compromise.
That is why I have offered an alternative proposal called the Patient's Choice Act.
My plan is the only proposal that would guarantee health insurance coverage to all Americans and ensure patients could select their own health plans without increasing costs to taxpayers or creating new government programs or regulations.
Under my plan, patient choice, competition, and transparency will be used to restore quality, increase access and lower the costs of health care for all Americans. No government official will sit in judgment of your health care decisions-just you and the doctor of your choice.
Unlike the current health care system, my plan would allow you to pick the insurance plan that best meets the medical needs of you and your family. If you do not like your coverage, you would have the power to "fire" your health insurance provider and try out a different plan. Likewise, if you are happy with your current plan, you could keep it.
This would all be done by redirecting the current tax break that businesses receive for providing health insurance to an individual tax rebate that all Americans would receive to purchase health insurance.
Please visit my website if you are interested in learning all of the details about the Patient's Choice Act.
I hope you will take a look at it and give me your feedback. As we enter the debate this summer, your comments and suggestions will help me shape the alternative to government-run health care.
Tom A. Coburn, MD
Suggested Reading/Viewing from Dr. Coburn
Coburn reintroduces the Enumerated Powers Act
The federal government and Congress in particular, have lost all mooring to the Constitution. By blindly passing legislation without regard to its constitutional authority, the federal government has grown far beyond its intended reach and is now threatening individual and economic liberty. The Enumerated Powers Act represents a small, but critical effort to force Congress to review its authority before it acts. For more information, please see the attached paper recently produced by the Heritage Foundation.
Dr. Coburn Releases Stimulus Oversight Report
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., recently released an oversight report 100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion that discloses 100 of the worst examples of waste in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus bill. The projects included in the report - worth $5.5 billion - range from Maine to California, and even two from the state of Oklahoma. Click here to read the entire report.
Senate Accepts Dr. Coburn's Amendment to Protect Second Amendment Rights; States' Rights
After more than a year of debate, and repeated attempts by Majority Leader Harry Reid to avoid this very tough vote, the Senate recently voted to accept Dr. Coburn's amendment to preserve the Second Amendment and states' rights on national parks and refuge lands. For more information, please click here.