Voting Against Government-Run Health Care

Voting Against Government-Run Health Care.

Voting Against Government-Run Health Care

By Senator Tom Coburn

This vote is indeed historic. This Congress will be remembered for its arrogance, corruption and stupidity. In the year of 2009, a Congress ignored the coming economic storm and impending bankruptcy of our entitlement programs and embarked on an ideological crusade to bring our nation as close to single-payer, government-run health care as possible. If this bill becomes law, future generations will rue this day and I will do everything in my power to work toward its repeal. This bill will ration care, cut Medicare, increase premiums, fund abortion and bury our children in debt.

This process was not compromise. This process was corruption. This bill passed because votes were bought and sold using the issue of abortion as a bargaining chip. The abortion provision alone makes this bill the most arrogant piece of legislation I have seen in Congress. Only the most condescending politician can believe it is appropriate to force Americans to pay for other people’s abortions and to coerce medical professional to take the lives of unborn children.

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The president and his allies genuinely believe that expanding government’s control over health care is the way to control health care costs, improve lives and extend life spans. I don’t question their motives, but I do question their judgment. History has already judged this argument and put it in its ash heap. The experience of government-run health care in the United States and around the world shows that access to a government program is not access to health care. Forty percent of doctors restrict access to Medicaid patients. Medicare already rations care and denies medical claims at twice the rate of private insurers. Nations like the United Kingdom with government run health care routinely ration care based on cost, and Canadians flock to the United States to escape waiting lines. Neither nation, incidentally, has managed to control costs as promised.

Our health care system needs to be reformed not because government’s role has been too small but because it has been too big. Since the 1940’s, government’s role in health care has been expanded to the point that it controls 60 percent of our health care economy, according the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. If more government were the answer, health care would have been reformed long ago.

Finally, like many Americans, I’ve been disappointed by the lack of civility in this debate. The backers of the Reid bill, in many cases, have been unwilling argue for what they believe in – a single-payer health care system controlled by Washington. Their hide the ball strategy led them to rush this process and ram the bill through on the eve of the most important Christian holiday when they hoped the American people wouldn’t be watching.

The rhetoric that will be remembered in this debate was not between elected officials but between elected officials and concerned citizens. The clear will of the public was not only ignored, but concerned citizens were personally attacked by politicians in power. The American people were derided as an angry mob, and were called evil-doers and unpatriotic by the leaders of the House and Senate.

The civility double standard in the Senate has been beneath the dignity of this body. Throughout this debate, backers of the Reid bill argued that more Americans will die if we do nothing than if we pass their bill. In their view, those who disagreed were not advancing a different vision for reform but were using scare tactics.

In my 25 years of practicing medicine I’ve treated countless patients who would have had their lives cut short had the Reid bill been in effect. I don’t need to conjure up scare tactics or rely on talking points written by staff. I’ve seen cancers that would have gone undiagnosed, treatments that would have been denied, and care that would have been delayed had this bill been in effect.

On the final day of debate, one of my colleagues said my argument about rationing was Exhibit A in their case about scare tactics before ignoring every substantive argument I’ve made against this bill. I would contend this bill is Exhibit A in the American people’s case against Washington. Soon enough, the American people will have the opportunity to ration the terms of the elected officials in Washington who sought to impose their will on the public.

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Tom Coburn, M.D. is a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma.
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