Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Op-Ed: Public health care bad for us all

August 21, 2009


Galveston Daily News
August 21, 2009

The health care delivery system in the United States is in need of reform. Health-care costs continue to increase exponentially, and businesses and families are watching more of their budgets be consumed by health expenses.

Access and affordability are paramount to solving the health care crisis facing our country. It is essential that we approach these issues with common sense and with the best interests of the American people at heart.

Unfortunately, the “solution” my Democratic colleagues have proposed would be disastrous for Americans and further cripple our economy. It includes an unprecedented expansion of government involvement in health care, including the creation of a government-run public option that could result in more than 114 million Americans losing their present health care coverage.

The public option is a gateway to full-blown government-run health care because, rather than increasing competition within the marketplace, the government will be able to act as a regulator and a funder for the public option. This will allow it to set rates for reimbursements and bail out the public option if it fails to compete with its private-sector counterparts.

A snapshot of Medicare, the national health insurance program for seniors, shows us that, under the present setup, patients often are told which doctors they may see and how frequently.

In fact, for new Medicare patients, it is virtually impossible to find a doctor who will be able to see them due to the ridiculous rules and inappropriate reimbursement rates. That is the model being used to bring government health care to Americans.

The proposed bill is based on a “government-as-solution” philosophy. This translates into more federal supervision, with mandates, rationing, bureaucracy and taking health care decision-making away from patients and their doctors.

In order to finance this government expansion, congressional leaders have included hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases on certain “higher-income” tax filers — a majority of whom are small businesses. There’s also the fact that this plan will force small businesses who do not offer insurance to either opt into a coverage plan or pay a penalty. Individuals who choose not to participate in a plan will also be slapped with a penalty for non-compliance — in part to pay for this massive new plan.

Any health care reform package Congress considers should empower Americans with opportunity and provide them the ability to make unencumbered decisions about their course of care. Achieving this positive type of change will be possible only by embracing, in a bipartisan manner, a fundamental rethinking of our health care delivery system — a system that champions personal ownership and coverage.

I will continue to urge my colleagues to put forth a plan that ensures personal decisions, not government-run health care. And I will not support a plan that raises taxes on small businesses or individuals. We can work together to provide meaningful solutions that do not jeopardize the future of this nation for our children. Americans deserve nothing less.

Pete Olson represents District 22, which includes parts of Galveston County, in the U.S. House of Representatives.