Garrett Gazette Opening Message

July 20, 2009 at 9:00pm

As the American people struggle to make ends meet, too many also live with the challenge of affording basic health care for themselves and their families. Any time a child or a parent goes without the care they need, it is a personal crisis for that family. These rising health care costs are among the reasons why Americans are in dire need of health care reform. I want to make quality health care affordable and accessible for every American, and let those who like their current health care plan keep it.


Many of you have heard about my prescription for health care reform, and I would like to share it with you again:



• Portability: Allowing individuals to keep their health care coverage while between jobs would provide a safety net for those who become uninsured because of unemployment or disability.



• Affordability: Health care costs have become unmanageable, both for families and for governments, and has left many uninsured or under-insured. Removing burdensome state coverage mandates and opening up the health care marketplace to competition across state lines could dramatically reduce health care costs in New Jersey and across the country.



• Sustainability: We should not add to the government health care programs until we are able to fix the existing government programs – Medicare and Medicaid. Unless we are able to fix these entitlement programs, as well as Social Security, the cost of the entire federal government will double within three decades due to entitlement growth alone. Tax hikes to fix this problem is not the solution, nor is adding a new government-run health care bureaucracy.



• Effectiveness: The current health care system reimburses the number of procedures rather than the quality and efficacy of the care. While doctors are compensated for extra tests and hospitals visits, they are not paid for offering telephone consultations or implementing health care IT. By encouraging quality over quantity of care, we can down on over testing and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship. Moreover, protecting doctors from frivolous tort lawsuits will significantly reduce the cost of primary care and remove a significant burden from doctors’ shoulders.



• Innovation: The United States has been home to more life-saving drugs, ground-breaking research, and innovative medical procedures than anywhere else in the world. Any health care reform must continue to encourage medical and pharmaceutical research and not enforce price controls, which would destroy the American pharmaceutical market.


Democrats are pushing for a government takeover of health care that would have devastating consequences for families and small businesses, while providing no guarantee of controlling costs for individuals and families. A government takeover of health care will raise taxes, ration care, and let government bureaucrats make decisions that should be made by families and their doctors.



The health care plan proposed by the Democrats will cost American families more than $1,000,000,000,000, and yet will cause as many as 114 million individuals to lose their current coverage under the bill, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that the federal deficit will increase by $239 billion as a result of House Democrats’ bill to create a government-run health care plan. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf publicly stated that the House Democrats’ health care bill, “would expand federal spending on health care to a significant degree.” The deficit would begin to skyrocket in just five short years under the Democrat bill despite $820 billion in new taxes to be paid for by individuals making as little as $10,000, small businesses and manufacturers.


The more we learn about this Democrat push for a government takeover of health care, the more it becomes clear it is the wrong prescription for improving our health care system. We don’t need to spend more on health care, but we do need to focus on reducing costs for families, small businesses and taxpayers. The House Democrats’ bill does nothing to reduce costs. In fact, it will increase costs, increase taxes and start to increase the size of the federal deficit in just five years. This is not a bill that should be slammed through Congress. It will effect every man, woman and child in this country, and we need to debate it thoroughly, thoughtfully and without artificial deadlines.


Democrats claim that there will be a massive savings for Medicare under their health care proposal. The CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) conducted a preliminary analysis of the budgetary effects of the Medicare component of the Democrats’ health care proposal.


Some highlights include:



Ø Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) “fix” costing $228.5 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø “Market Basket” payment updates (hospital and facility) totaling $160.5 billion in cuts
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Cuts to home health payments totaling $56.8 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Cuts to power wheelchairs ($.9 billion) and imaging services ($.3 billion)
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Cuts to Medicare Advantage totaling $172 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Expanding Medicaid Drug rebates for dual-eligible’s in the Medicare program saving the government $63 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Filling the Medicare Part D donut hole costing $47 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Nearly $2.5 billion in spending on Medicare rural “protections”
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Expanding Medicare low-income subsidies totaling $39.6 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Expanded coverage of services and increased primary care payments totaling $13.3 billion
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Coordinated care and medical home pilot programs, which have been touted as saving billions, actually end up saving a mere $400 million
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Only $3.1 billion in savings from reducing fraud, waste and abuse
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt 0.5in;">Ø Making the Quality Improvement program permanent costing $8.4 billion
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<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">Thus despite the “significant” savings (touted at $500 billion by the House Democrats), after outlays, the score only shows $152.1 billion in total savings, far less than the multi-trillion-dollar price tag of the overall bill.</p>
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<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">As you can see, the Democrats’ health care proposal fails to save as much as they claim, and will only serve to balloon our federal deficit. Democrats propose more than $800 billion in new tax hikes. According to economic modeling by the president’s own chief economic business tax hikes alone would destroy up to 4.7 million jobs. I do not support levying tax hikes to hurt American taxpayers, and I do not support a health care plan that will destroy American jobs.</p>
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<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">The American people deserve the freedom to choose the health care that is best for their families. I believe we need meaningful health care reform that would increase accessibility, decrease costs, and improve on what is already the best health care system in the world.</p>
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<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">Sincerely,</p>
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<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">Scott Garrett</p>
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">Member of Congress</p>
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