Following are excerpts from a speech Sen. Tom Coburn gave concering the proposed Reid bill – the Senate version of the proposed health care bill:
What this bill is going to do is going to destroy the best health care system in the world, and it’s going to undermine the security of every senior in this country …
What I disagree with is moving $2.5 trillion more under government control which will raise costs ultimately in the health care sector. And if it doesn’t raise costs and we’re truly going to take this money from Medicare, what it’s going to do to our seniors, I have a message for you: you’re going to die sooner.
And they’re going to say that isn’t true. That isn’t true. When you restrict the ability of the primary caregivers in this country to do what is best for their senior patients, what you are doing is limiting their life expectancy. We’re saying that CMS, the Medicare advisory commission and the cost effectiveness comparativeness panel will tell the doctors what they can and cannot do, ignoring the 20% of the people that that is exactly the wrong prescription for. So, for 20% of our seniors, this bill is going to be a disaster, but it’s going to save money because you’re not going to be around for us to spend any money on you …
Now, they’ll dispute that. But the people who are going to be disputing that are lawyers. They’re not doctors. They’ve never laid a hand on a patient. They’ve never put their hand forward on a Medicare patient knowing the consequences of the whole, total patient, the background, the medical history, the sociologic factors that fit, the family dynamics, the past medical history and the family history, and the present state of mind of that patient. And even more important, what this bill’s going to do is divide your doctor away from you.
In the HELP committee, I offered an amendment to change the language so that there would be absolutely a prohibition on rationing care and directing the care from Washington. It was rejected out of hand. Rejected out of hand.
Not one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle voted to prohibit rationing of health care. Now, why would they do that? Because the ultimate intention through the cost comparativeness effectiveness panel is to ration care. It’s to ration the care. It’s to limit the amount of dollars that we spend and never look at the individual patient.
If we think about the Medicare cuts in this bill, we’re going to take $135 billion out of the hospitals. Do you think seniors will ever notice that? I do. I think when you ring your button and you’re hurting and you need pain medicines or you need to go to the bathroom, the time it takes for somebody to get there won’t be sufficient. What will happen is you wait. You’ll have a complication. If you become acutely shortness of breath and you punch your button, the available nurses won’t be there. There will be a consequence to cutting $135 billion from payments to hospitals in this country.