Setting the Record Straight on HealthcareThere's a lot of noise in the healthcare debate right now. All too often the voices of reason are drowned out by the misinformation of special interests and those who believe that inaction is the answer. In reality, the basic objectives of healthcare reform are very clear. Here's a breakdown of some of the myths that I've been hearing:
MYTH: Health reform will force me to accept a public plan.
FACT: If you like your health plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep her. All health reform will do is help lower your costs by cutting wasteful administrative spending and boosting competition.
MYTH: Congress will not be forced to accept the public health insurance plan that they will force on everybody else.
FACT: This myth gets it exactly backwards. Right now, members of Congress have access to a quality health care plan that other Americans cannot buy into. One thing Barack Obama and I want to do is to give Americans and small businesses the ability to buy into a plan like the one I have. We also want to give all Americans access to a quality, affordable public health insurance option. No Americans will be forced to accept the public option, but right now millions of Americans are forced to accept no option.
MYTH: A public health insurance option will put private plans out of business.
FACT: More than 30 states, including New Mexico, offer state employees a choice between private insurance and a state-backed public option. These states have not seen either private or public plans forced out of the market. Their employees just have more options.
MYTH: Health reform will put a bureaucrat between me and my doctor.
FACT: Once again, supporters of the status quo have it exactly backwards. Right now, if you have private insurance, a private bureaucrat is paid to decide whether you can get the care your doctor recommends. Worse, the insurance company that person works for will often make more money if he denies your claim.
Health reform will not add a government bureaucrat to your private plan. It will make it illegal for that private bureaucrat to deny you coverage because your illness was the result of a preexisting condition. And it will make sure that your insurance company has to compete for your business, so they are less likely to make you jump through hoops just to get the care you need.
MYTH: Health reform will hurt Medicare.
FACT: Health reform will do a number of things to help Medicare recipients. As part of discussions surrounding health reform, the drug industry has pledged to provide seniors facing the "donut hole" gap in Medicare drug coverage with a discount of at least 50 percent, saving thousands of dollars for some seniors. Health reform will also simplify the application process for financial support for low-income seniors. It will also increase premium subsidies and decrease some copayments for Medicare's drug benefit. Finally, health reform will protect Medicare doctor payments and institute a number of measures to cut bureaucratic hurdles and improve the quality of care.
Medicare is more than a program; it is a commitment that America makes to its senior citizens. I would never support a health reform plan that betrays that commitment.
MYTH: Health reform will hurt small businesses and the economy.
FACT: Actually, small businesses who want to provide health insurance will be some of the primary beneficiaries of health reform. Small businesses and individuals now pay an additional 30 percent in health care costs to cover the price of red tape, compared to just seven percent for large businesses. By helping small businesses to work together, health reform will cut costs dramatically and make it possible for small businesses to provide employees with health care just like the big ones. Health reform will also provide tax credits to small businesses, allowing them to provide the care their employees deserve.
Right now, American car companies pay roughly $1500 per car in health care costs for their employees. Japanese car companies pay about $150. Health reform won't just make America healthier; it will make us more competitive in the global marketplace. That means more jobs for American workers and a more prosperous future for our children.