Editors Note: Saturday, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn delivered the weekly Republican radio address to the America. As the nation struggles with questions of health care and government roles in which Senator Coburn is an active voice, Tulsa Today is proud to provide the full text of his remarks for your consideration.
Hello, I’m Dr. Tom Coburn, a practicing physician from Oklahoma and a
member of the United States Senate. This week I had the opportunity to join President Obama and my Democrat
and Republican colleagues for a summit on health care. We had a
respectful and constructive discussion.
While we listened to one another, I’m concerned that the majority in Congress is still not listening to the American people on the subject of health care reform. By an overwhelming margin, the American people are telling us to scrap the current bills, which will lead to a government takeover of health care, and we should start over.
Unfortunately, even before the summit took place the majority in Congress signaled its intent to reject our offers to work together. Instead they want to use procedural tricks and backroom deals to ram through a new bill that combines the worst aspects of the bills the Senate and House passed last year.
The American people have rejected the majority’s plan for good reason. Their plan includes a half trillion dollars in new tax increases, a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, job-killing penalties for employers, taxpayer funded abortion and new boards that will ration care to American citizens. At its core, their plan continues a government-centered approach that has made health care more expensive. Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care. If more government spending and control was the answer we could have fixed health care long ago.
Republicans in Congress have a different vision for reform. We have put forward several proposals that lay out a common sense step-by-step path to reform. Our solutions are patient-centered, not government-centered. We believe in expanding options, not government;increasing access, not taxes; and reducing costs, not quality. Most importantly, we believe that no one has the right to step between you and your doctor.
I introduced a health care bill called the ‘Patients Choice Act’ last May along with Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and Representatives Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Devin Nunes of California that includes several step-by-step ideas for reform. The ‘Patients’ Choice Act’ and other Republican plans accomplish all of the president’s goals,including expanding coverage, without raising taxes, bankrupting the country or rationing care.
“Our ideas address the core problem in our health care system – skyrocketing costs – by using the only force that ever lowers cost –competition and consumer choice. Health care is so expensive today because third-parties – government and insurance company bureaucrats – have stepped between you and your doctor.
“Our solutions restore the doctor-patient relationship and put you – not your insurance company, your boss or the government – in charge of your health care dollars and decisions. The ‘Patients’ Choice Act,’for instance, provides generous tax credits that let you buy, and keep, the plan of your choice. We also limit lawsuit abuse which causes doctors to order costly tests that protect themselves rather than you, the patient.
Our proposals to rein in the massive amount of fraud, waste and duplication in our health care system drew widespread praise from Democrats at the summit, including the President. One in three dollars in our more than $2 trillion health care system does not do anything to help people get well or prevent them from getting sick. Democrats and Republicans agree that eliminating waste and inefficiency would lower costs and improve access tomorrow.
The majority now has a choice. We can continue to make progress like we did at the summit. Or, they can try to ram through a partisan bill that will divide and bankrupt America.
I wholeheartedly share President Obama’s desire for more civility and bipartisanship in Washington and I’m proud of the work that we did together when he was a member of the Senate. True civility, however, is measured by actions, not words.
I was disappointed the President rejected my suggestion that he host another summit. The President himself proposed that such meetings be televised more than a year ago. Last year, dozens of Democrat-only summits were held in secret, behind closed doors and produced many unsavory deals. Had those meetings been open and bipartisan I believe Congress could have passed a bipartisan health bill months ago.
If the President and the leaders in Congress are serious about finding common ground they should continue this debate, not cut it off by rushing through a partisan bill the American people have already rejected. If the majority agrees to work together they will find many Republicans ready to help them pursue our common goals of helping all Americans access quality and affordable health care for themselves and their families.
Thank you so much for listening.