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The Final Chapters in the Health Care Debate

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Video: Paul Ryan discussing what real health care reform should look like 3/18/10 - The Charlie Rose Show

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Video: Paul Ryan on Fox & Friends, with guest host Dana Perino, talking about the Majority's attempted end-game for health care reform 3/19/10 - Fox News Channel

The Final Chapters in the Health Care Debate

 By Paul Ryan

 Representing Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District

 March 20, 2010 

Congress stands at the brink of jamming through the largest entitlement expansion in 40 years, the largest tax increase in American history, and a consequential acceleration of our nation's march toward bankruptcy. Through a cynical "deem-and-pass" procedural maneuver, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to send the Senate-passed health care overhaul to the President's desk on Sunday, while voting on a "reconciliation" bill that includes an array of new tax hikes and back-room deals.

If the consideration of the bill progresses as the Democratic Leadership intends, the House will send the 2700 page overhaul of one-sixth of the U.S.economy to the President's desk without an up-or-down vote. The use of "deeming and passing", employing the budget reconciliation process, and making deals with Members behind closed doors have all fueled resentment among the American people, further eroding our trust in Washington. The ugly process speaks to the even more troublesome policies that have been unable to stand on their own merits. 

The entire architecture of this health care overhaul is designed to give the federal government control over what kind of insurance is available for patients, how much health care is enough, and which treatments are worth paying for. No longer will patients and doctors be in control of individual health care decisions, instead government boards and bureaucrats will be the primary deciders. 

Let's also take a quick look at the costs of this legislation. Much is made of the Congressional Budget Office scores on deficit reduction, but the reality of this bill violates the President's promise that this legislation will "not add a dime to the deficit." Rather than provide the CBO with an honest bill, the authors of this bill gamed the legislation to get the score they sought - 10 years of revenues, 6 years of spending; double counting savings from Medicare cuts,Social Security taxes and long-term care insurance premiums; shell games and smoke and mirrors. 

When you strip away the gimmicks and the faulty assumptions, it is clear this bill does not reduce the deficit and it does not contain costs. Instead, it creates a brand new open-ended entitlement at a time when we have no idea how to pay for our current unsustainable entitlement programs. This overhaul imposes job-killing tax hikes on all Americans at a time when we desperately need to get sustained job creation and economic growth going again. Most importantly, this legislation fails to improve the quality and affordability of health care in America.

Unfortunately, the Majority's willingness to proceed with this bill, which fails to address the shortcomings of our health care system, shows that this debate is not, and never was, about health care - it's about ideology. The Democratic Leaders in Congress saw the turnout at Townhall meetings in August, they saw the reaction of the American people when both parties were able to present their ideas at the Blair House Summit and instead of trying to reach a genuine consensus on reforms, they doubled down on this flawed legislation. 

There are real problems that need to be fixed in health care and we could have done so in a bipartisan way. It did not have to be this way. Almost a year ago, I introduced the Patients' Choice Act, which would fix what's broken in health care, without breaking what's working. This legislation shows it is possible to achieve universal access to quality, affordable health care with the patient and the doctor- not the government or insurance companies - as the nucleus of health care in America. Every American should have access to affordable health insurance, and the ability to acquire preventive health careand treatment, regardless of employment, health status, or income level. 

We all agree that meaningful health care reform is long overdue, but it is increasingly clear that Washington's trillion-dollar, two-thousand page overhaul will not only fail to address what's broken in health care - but will actually make matters worse. If we are serious about reaching bipartisan solutions, we ought to scrap this massive overhaul and start over - working from a clean sheet of paper to advance common sense patient-centered reforms.