Two days and two health care town halls. At least, that was what I had planned for. Instead, as nearly three thousand of my constituents turned out to express their concerns about Obamacare, we held a second town hall each night for the folks who couldn’t get into the first ones. All in all, everyone was passionate but very civil with their questions and comments.
What folks said in my four town halls was akin to what others have been repeating at gatherings all across America. In Clarkesville, I was asked why so many expensive bills – like Obamacare - are being rapidly pushed through Congress. They have concerns that big mistakes will be made if health care reform is rushed through so quickly. I could not agree more.
We have seen hurried mistakes with the recent bank bailouts, the so-called “stimulus,” and cash for clunkers, because they were rammed through Congress with little or no debate. Health care reform impacts a very large part of our economy and our daily lives. Doesn’t Congress owe it to Americans to have an open and meaningful debate that produces a plan supported by a large bipartisan majority? I think it does. But that’s not what the President and Democrat leaders in Congress are doing.
America’s health care system needs reform. But it does not need to be transformed into a government-run program. Bureaucracies simply do not cut costs, and they have never increased efficiency. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to turn my family’s health care over to the same system running the Post Office. With a $7 billion operating loss this year alone, even the President admits that, “If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the Post Office that's always having problems." Unfortunately, Obamacare would hand over control of the health care system to likely the same system failing at the USPS.
Other constituents, in Augusta, asked about health care costs and portability. As a medical doctor, I have seen these problems first hand, and I believe that we must work to lower health care costs, allow folks the opportunity to shop for health care plans across state lines, and the ability to take their health insurance with them when they switch jobs. But instead of reinventing the wheel and placing bureaucrats in direct control of a huge part of our lives, we should institute meaningful market-based reforms that will lower costs across the board and allow doctors to provide care to the neediest patients.
In the United Kingdom, their health care bureaucracy (NHS) has become the 3rd largest employer in the world – just behind China’s Red Army. But a big bureaucracy certainly hasn’t helped. Aside from its unbearable budget, earlier this year, an investigation of an NHS hospital in Staffordshire found dehydrated patients forced to drink water from flower vases, accident victims left untended for hours, clinical judgments being made by receptionists and the unnecessary deaths of between 400 and 1,200 patients. When questioned, both Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Health Secretary Alan Johnson issued an apology on behalf of the government bureaucracy.
We must lower health care costs and make coverage available to more people, but we must not sacrifice our freedom, our principles, or our children’s future for a new government bureaucracy. Please join me and millions of other Americans in stopping Obamacare in its tracks, and instead working together to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.