WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 15, 2009
Over the next two days, our committee will be marking up the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act.” As we consider health care reform, let me begin by stating that most of us readily agree that reining in health care costs and expanding access to the health care system for all Americans must be top considerations when discussing any proposed reforms. However, we must also abide by the physician’s guiding principal, “First, do no harm,” in choosing the particular reforms we embrace.
I am deeply concerned about many aspects of this over one-thousand page bill, including its cost to employers and the likelihood it will move countless Americans involuntarily from private health insurance to a government-run program. There are a number of amendments expected to be offered by my colleagues on this committee that aim to protect aspects of our current health care system that are working for many Americans. Approximately 62 percent of American workers are covered by an employer-provided health care plan, and many of them are pleased with their current coverage. It is absolutely imperative that these workers are able to maintain their coverage without consequences resulting from the federal government altering the employer-provided health care structure.
We must also ensure that small businesses can afford health insurance for their employees. Currently, about 23 million of the uninsured in America work for firms having fewer than 100 employees. An integral piece of reform should include allowing small businesses to join together across state lines to purchase health insurance through Association Health Plans (AHPs), thus obtaining the same uniform regulation, economies of scale, and administrative efficiencies that large companies currently enjoy.
Ultimately, as we move forward we must aim to build upon the existing health care system, expanding it to more employees and families, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all health care system that jeopardizes the care of those who already have insurance. There is no single “silver bullet” to address our health care needs. We must approach the health care issue in a comprehensive manner, but always remain mindful of the unintended consequences that can follow good intentions.
# # #