Written by Tom Coburn.
Dr. Tom Coburn (R.) is a United States senator from Oklahoma.
And also one of two doctors in the Senate.
While I have confidence in the American people to come up with their own probing questions, let me suggest a few questions that my own colleagues have been loath to answer:
1. Why do we need to increase spending on health care by at least $1.6 trillion and steal prosperity from our children and grandchildren when we spend nearly twice per person what other industrialized nations spend on health care?
2. What programs will you cut and whose taxes will you raise to pay for health-care reform?
Any politician — Republican or Democrat — who refuses to answer this question or avoids the topic by deferring
to the committees of jurisdiction doesn’t deserve to be in office.
3. What earmarks or pet projects that you have sponsored will you sacrifice to help finance the cost of health-care reform?
It is immoral, in my view, to ask taxpayers to make more sacrifices while politicians practice business- as-usual
pork-barrel politics. In my view, any bill that increases spending is a failure and not serious reform. The problem
is not that we don’t spend enough on health care, but that we don’t allocate resources efficiently and get value for
what we pay.
4. Will you vote for a public option that requires taxpayer-funded abortion?
5. If the public option is so wonderful, will you lead by example and vote for a plan to enroll you and your family in the public option?
I offered an amendment in committee to force members of Congress to enroll in the public option. Nine out of eleven
Democrats on the health committee who back the public option refused. If the politicians creating the public option
don’t have confidence in it, neither should the American people.
6. Will you vote for a plan that will allow a board of politicians and bureaucrats to override decisions made by you and your doctor?
Both the Senate and House bills set up a government-run “comparative effectiveness” board that will make final
decisions about treatment and care. In committee, I gave senators several opportunities to accept language that
would forbid this board from denying care. All of my amendments were rejected, which suggests that the intent is to
set up a board that will ration care, as is done in the United Kingdom.
7. If you support a “comparative effectiveness” board, what qualifies you, as a politician, to practice medicine? Have you delivered health care to a single person, much less entire classes of people you claim to represent, such as the poor, the uninsured, or children?
I’m one of two physicians in the Senate, along with John Barrasso of Wyoming. I know for a fact that very few leaders
in this debate have any firsthand experience or knowledge of health care, which is disturbing.
8. How will a government-run public option perform better than other failing government programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Indian Health Care?
Forty percent of doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients because the program is broken. Access to a
government program — such as the public option — does not guarantee access to health care.
9. If increasing spending on health care was the solution, why hasn’t it worked yet?
The public-option “reform” is not new at all but an extension of 1960s-era public policies that say a little more
government spending and intervention is always the answer.
10. Are you more committed to doing reform right or quickly? Would you consider backing a thoughtful alternative to the public option? If so, which one?
I’ve introduced a bill along with Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.) and Reps. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) called the Patient’s Choice Act that guarantees coverage and choice for every American without raising taxes or increasing spending. In fact, our bill will save taxpayers at least $70 billion. Many other members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are working on alternatives that don’t herd the American people into a government-run program.
The choice is not between the public option and nothing. The choice is between the public option and an option that can win the support of the public. The future of health care truly is up to you.
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