Coburn Amendments Highlight Health Follies

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement Tuesday regarding the signing of the health care bill.  Dr. Coburn also filed several amendments to the reconciliation bill the Senate plans to consider this week.

“This bill will be remembered as a historic missed opportunity.  Instead of bringing the country together around common sense reforms focused on restraining costs, this bill builds on a broken and bankrupt system,” Dr. Coburn said.

“As of today, the politicians who led this effort will own not only this
bill – its tax increases, Medicare cuts, rationing provisions and
taxpayer-funded abortions – but every injustice and dysfunction in our
health care system.  The partisan, ideological crusade to pass this
bill, which Rep. Dennis Kucinich called a ‘detour’ to single-payer
health care, left no room for genuine bipartisan reform.

“The backers of this bill now own not only the new problems they created, but the problems they ignored.  Premiums will continue to increase faster than income.  One in three health care dollars will continue to do nothing to help people get well or prevent them from getting sick.  Doctors will continue to practice defensive medicine and order tests to protect themselves rather than their patients.  Medicare will continue to ration care and deny claims at twice the rate of the largest private insurance.  Medicare and Medicaid will also continue to burn $100 billion a year on fraud.

Forty percent of doctors will continue to deny care to Medicaid patients.  Medicaid patients will continue to receive substandard care and bureaucrats may continue to supply sex offenders with Viagra.  The list of common sense, step-by-step reforms that could have been enacted but were ignored goes on and on.  

“As the American people realize the extent to which their plea for common sense reform was ignored their demand that this bill be repealed will grow.  If we can’t repeal this bill in a single vote, we’ll attempt to take it apart piece by piece, section by section, pay-off by pay-off and replace it with common sense solutions that work.  Beginning this week, Senators will have many, many opportunities to reconsider their stand in defense of a bill the American people begged us not to pass,” Dr. Coburn said.

Dr. Coburn has filed the following amendments to the reconciliation bill.  Additional background is available here.

1.   No Erectile Dysfunction Drugs To Sex Offenders – This amendment would enact recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to stop fraudulent payments for prescription drugs prescribed by dead providers or, to dead patients. This amendment also prohibits coverage of Viagra and other ED medications to convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders, and prohibits coverage of abortion drugs. Click here to view amendment.

2.   Bureaucrat Cap and Trade – This amendment would ensure that no provisions in the health bill increase the size of government bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. This amendment requires that for each government bureaucrat added to a government agency as a result of this act, there must be a corresponding decrease in a government bureaucrat at that agency. The federal government should not grow the bureaucracy in Washington, DC when one in 10 Americans is looking for work and twice as many are underemployed.  Click here to view amendment.

3.   Congress Should Not Lecture Americans About Fiscal Responsibility – This amendment would strike the creation of a new $375 million government program the new health bill (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) intended to promote personal and financial responsibility. It is ironic that Congress, that amassed a $12 trillion deficit, should lecture Americans about financial responsibility. This government “responsibility” program duplicates existing government programs and adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the tax burden funds. In short, there is nothing responsible about the new responsibility program. Click here to view amendment.

4.   Repeal New Powers Given to the Secretary of HHS. Nearly 1,700 times in the new health bill (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), the Secretary of HHS is given new authorities to write regulations, issue definitions, and decide on the fate of Americans’ health care. Congress should be empowering patients and physicians, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC. Click here to view amendment.

5.   If You Like the Health Plan You Have, You Can Keep It. President Obama promised that Americans who like their health care plan would be able to keep it. However, the Congressional Budget Office has said that millions of people will lose their current coverage under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, for many Americans, the reconciliation bill is even worse news, as it made changes to some grandfathering provisions. The changes to grandfathering provisions would mean that individuals with guaranteed renewable plans in the individual market will NOT be able to keep their current coverage at the current price, but would immediately be issued a new policy and charged more. This amendment strikes changes to grandfathered plans, so Americans who like the health care they have actually can keep it.  Click here to view amendment.

6.   Implement Republican Ideas President Obama Has Endorsed To Crack Down on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. The President’s Proposal for health reform, released on February 22, 2010, highlighted nine Republican ideas to combat waste, fraud, and abuse. This amendment includes each of those policy provisions which have been endorsed by President Obama. Certainly Washington politicians should be serious about stemming the hemorrhaging of taxpayer dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. Senators will have an opportunity to vote on proposals which have received bipartisan support, and which the President has endorsed. Click here to view amendment. Click here to view the proposal.

7.   Ensure Nondiscrimination For Providers Refusing To Perform Abortions and Respect for the Rights of Conscience. This amendment would ensure health care providers are not forced to participate in abortions or discriminated against because they choose not to perform abortions. The federal government should never require health care providers to violate their deeply held moral, ethical or religious beliefs or discriminate against them because they choose to exercise their consciences and not be involved with abortion. This amendment would protect health care providers from being required or coerced to perform abortions.  Click here to view amendment.

8.   Exempt Class I Medical Devices from New Taxation. Taxing latex gloves and band-aids is not health reform and only increases the cost of health care for patients. This amendment would exempt all Class I medical devices – such as band-aids, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and surgical gowns – from new federal taxation.  Click here to view amendment.

9.   Motion to Commit Bill to Committee and Return In Compliance with President Obama’s Promises. During his presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama repeatedly made several promises related to what health reform would accomplish. The bill he signed today breaks those promises. This amendment would send the reconciliation bill back to the Finance Committee and direct the Committee to report back out a bill which would allow him to keep his promise. Click here to view amendment. Click here to view President Obama’s health care promises.