A Better Way
Town Hall Meeting
Granite Bay, California
September 1, 2009
I want to thank all of you for coming today, from all sides of the political spectrum. We are watching something unfold across the country that is rare and unique – we are watching Americans do what Americans have always done in a crisis. When we sense a crisis approaching, we rise to the occasion; we become actively involved in the debate over our future as a nation – and ultimately we set things right.
The debates inside the Capitol are merely a reflection of the debates that are going on across our country right now, over backyard fences and family dinner tables, on talk shows and at town hall forums across America.
I heard one politician the other day call this “un-American” and another called it “evil.” I couldn’t disagree more. It is uniquely American and one of the best things about our nation – that we have the freedom to come together as citizens, freely debate the issues and hold our officials accountable.
I know that most of you have come here today to discuss health care, and I’d like to begin by laying out my views on the subject.
I believe that there are serious problems with our healthcare system that need to be addressed, but I am very skeptical that the same government that pays $400 for hammers and $600 for toilet seats is somehow going to keep our healthcare costs down. I am skeptical that the same government that runs FEMA is going to bring efficiency to our doctors’ offices. And I am skeptical that the same government that runs the IRS is going to bring compassion and understanding to our insurance companies.
We have a great deal of experience with government run health plans. They are remarkably consistent, whether in Britain or Canada or Tennessee and Massachusetts. They suffer massive cost over-runs followed by a brutal rationing of care.
Long lines and waiting lists are a hallmark of bureaucracies. A long line at the Post Office or the DMV is annoying. But a 6-month waiting list for heart surgery can be deadly.
I believe that there is a much better alternative – and that is to use a pre-paid, refundable tax credit – a health voucher if you will – that would bring within the reach of every family a basic health plan that they could select – according to their own needs – that they could own – regardless of who their employer is – and that they could change if it failed to suit their needs.
We already provide tax benefits to companies to buy health insurance for their employees. Isn’t it time we began providing tax benefits to the employees themselves so that they can control their own health care?
For a fraction of the price of Obama Care – we can put private health insurance within the financial reach of every American family. Then they will have the power to fire an unresponsive company that is jerking them around and switch to a plan that offers them better services at lower cost.
Cost drivers imposed by government must also be addressed. The spiraling cost of litigation is a significant cost driver. If you doubt that, just ask your doctor how much he has to shell out every year to protect himself from malpractice suits.
At the same time, every year the legislature adds scores if not hundreds of mandates onto your insurance that you have to pay for. Every one of those increased mandates increases the cost of your policy for coverage you may not want but are required to pay for.
And finally, we need to restore the freedom of people to shop across state lines for plans that provide better service at lower cost. We don’t require Californians only to bank at California Banks or shop only at California retailers – and you we require Californians only to buy California insurance.
According to the August 3, 2009 Rasmussen poll, 48 percent of Americans rate the American health care system good or excellent – and only 19 percent rate it poor. And 80 percent with insurance rate their coverage as good or excellent.
There are 47 million uninsured in this country. But once you subtract those who are here illegally, those who earn $75,000 a year and choose not to purchase insurance, and those who are already qualified for government assistance but choose not to avail themselves of it – we’re actually looking at about 9 million Americans who genuinely cannot get health insurance out of 300 million Americans. If you’re one of those 9 million, that is a big problem and it needs to be addressed.
But it is not justification for the government to take over our entire health care system and to jeopardize the coverage that hundreds of millions of Americans have and are satisfied with.
Fortunately, we can provide a much less expensive reform that puts patients back in control of their health care, gives every patient the power to tell an unsatisfactory insurer “You’re fired,” and keeps the same people who run the DMV out of our doctors’ offices.