Congressman Tom ColeLast week President Obama and his liberal Democratic allies in Congress announced plans for a government takeover of America's health care industry. This plan will cost more than a trillion dollars and will be paid for by tax increases and costly mandates on small business owners and by cuts to Medicare. And if you are among the over 250 million Americans who currently have health insurance, get ready for big changes.
For years the left has grossly overstated the true number of Americans who are genuinely and chronically uninsured. Among the alleged 47 million people without insurance are millions who could afford insurance, but simply choose not to buy it. Many of these people are young and healthy and they don't think anything will ever happen to cause them to need insurance. Millions more are people in-between jobs. They may be uninsured at the particular time that the snapshot is taken, but they have been insured in the recent past and they will be insured in the near future.
The plan announced by the Democrats in Congress, and endorsed by President Obama, is not about providing health care for everyone. In fact, their plan will still leave approximately 17 million Americans without insurance. This plan is about taking control of yet another American industry. It is about controlling people and limiting their choices. And it is just the latest step in their frightening march of America towards a European-style socialism.
According to a 2009 study by the non-partisan Lewin Group, the Democrats' health care bill will force 114 million Americans out of their current private health coverage. This includes approximately 106 million individuals who are covered under an existing employer-provided plan. Because the centerpiece of their plan is a government run program based on Medicare, which reimburses doctors for less than the cost of the service delivered, doctors and hospitals have to charge private insurance companies and their customers more in order to make up the difference. As a result, the cost of private health coverage is expected to increase by an estimated $460 per person, or $1,788 for a family of four. This proposal also robs many of America's seniors of health care coverage that they are currently receiving. Those who have signed up for Medicare Advantage, a popular prescription drug plan chosen by many of our country's senior citizens, will see sharp cuts to their program funding.
The final cost of this plan is still being calculated, but most experts - including those who favor this plan - expect it to exceed one trillion dollars. And while Democrats are still trying to figure out how to pay for it, some of the options on the table include costly mandates to small businesses, cuts to Medicare benefits, and taxing people's employer based health care benefits as income.
Lest it sound like I am unsympathetic to the plight of those who are without insurance - I am not. I agree that we have a moral obligation to continue to look for ways to provide basic health care for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. And there are numerous ways that objective can be achieved without plunging our nation headlong into socialized medicine. The proposal being promoted by President Obama is a prescription for rationed care, higher costs, longer waits, and economic disaster. American's would be well advised to seek a second opinion.