There’s a lot of contradictory information floating around about the health care bills winding their way through Congress; so late last week I talked to Congressman Steve King to get the real scoop on what these bills contain. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
1) First of all, if the bill that’s being discussed becomes law, will the medical care of illegal aliens end up being paid for with American tax dollars?
Well, nothing is certain, of course, but with the language that’s there, it looks to me like they are preparing to fund illegal aliens — even though they have some language that says that they won’t be funding them. It’s got to be more specific than general language in there.
We’ve seen what they’ve done with Medicaid. There was a requirement to prove citizenship with Medicaid, but…one has to…only attest to a social security number. That’s the only standard that’s left in Medicaid today and it opens up funding for millions of illegals to receive Medicaid.
That presumably would be the same standard that the Democrats would use on the healthcare bill. So the CBO’s score on that…comes down to approximately 5.6 million illegals that are likely to have health insurance underneath the public option or some other version that they would have in their bill.
2) Will abortions be paid for with our tax dollars?
The way it stands today, that answer is “yes,” and the history of abortion funding from the federal government has been this: since 1973, the federal government has funded abortions unless there was an explicit prohibition written into the law. We have prohibited that in any number of cases, but this healthcare bill that’s being rolled out by the Democrats and the House, by any information I have of what’s in it, would fund abortion because there is no explicit prohibition.
In fact, there was an amendment that was brought through the Energy and Commerce Committee, that passed by one vote, that would have prohibited abortions. They then turned around and wrote another amendment that struck it out again. So, the committee has voted to fund abortions with public taxpayer dollars.
3) Will this bill eventually lead to a shortage of doctors?
Well, there is no indication that it’s going to increase the number of doctors. There are plenty of indications that it will decrease the number of doctors because they’re going to limit payment to physicians, they’re going to limit payment to Medicare, and if they do that, that means there is less incentive for doctors to go to school, develop their education, and provide the services because there is less financial reward at the other end. So, if you take away the money, you will have fewer doctors.
4) Will there be fewer life saving drugs and cutting edge medical procedures available over the long haul because of this bill?
You know, I can’t say that for sure because we have very, very well-developed research and development teams here in the United States. But, …they’ve done so because of the profit incentive and I can tell you that the Democrats are determined to squeeze down the profit that’s in the pharmaceuticals.
You know, the rest of the world has benefited greatly from the research and development that’s done here in the United States on pharmaceuticals and if you squeeze the money down, …you end up with less money in R&D and there will be fewer drugs all together.
5) Some Democrats, like Barney Frank, have said that the public option included in the plan is likely to lead to a single payer system and wipe out the private insurance industry. Do you agree with that?
That’s what they want to do. I’m completely convinced of that. I’ve heard the tape of Barney Frank saying that he wants a public option because that is the path to a single payer. That has been the goal all along and the people on the other side of the aisle, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and dozens and dozens of other members of Congress seem to think that one size fits all and government can do it better than the private sector. That’s their goal and my goal is to preserve freedom.
6) Eric Cantor has said the Democrats healthcare bill would crush small businesses. Do you agree?
Well, I don’t know if it would crush them all at once like stepping on a bug, but I think it would be a slow and painful death for lots of them. We have more than 1,300 private health insurance companies and among them they provide perhaps as many as 100,000 different options for health insurance. So, what they have planned here through this Pelosi Congress is to force all of those 1,300 private health insurance companies into the qualified private sector plans that would have to meet new standards yet to be written by a new health insurance czar yet to be appointed.
Who knows what they will write, but we know two things will happen. One is they’ll write new regulations that will make it harder for these companies to qualify. We know that all of them will not qualify and we will know that they will write it in such a way that other companies have to compete with the new public option.
The new public option will be rationing healthcare in order to meet the funding, which means they will write tougher regulations for the privates. I think eventually they will all get swallowed up by the government-run public plan. By the way, in section 102 in the bill it stipulates that all health insurance policies have to transferred and changed within five years. So, even though President Obama says if you like your plan, you get to keep it, the bill says nobody gets to keep it past five years. It has to be rewritten.
7) Frivolous legal costs are one of the biggest reasons medical care costs so much today. Between lawsuits and defensive medicine, they add tens of billions of dollars to what the American people have to pay every year. Is it true that this bill does very little of significance to cut those costs?
I would say there is nothing in the bill that addresses the unnecessary litigation that drives up the costs of healthcare. We’ve tried to cap that in the past, …but we weren’t able to get them to take that up in the Senate at the time. When I push on medical malpractice litigation reform, the pushback is there. They don’t want to do anything that’s going to limit the cash flow to the trial lawyers. They just want to shut off the funds that go to healthcare providers.
8) Now given the job that the government has done with Medicare, should Americans be confident that the government can confidently handle a much larger chunk of healthcare without breaking the country?
President Obama said that we’re in an economic crisis and we can’t fix the economy without first fixing healthcare. Healthcare does cost too much money. It’s around 14.5% of our GDP as compared to around 9.5% for some of the other developed countries — but, what he would do is dump one to two trillion into a new model of healthcare by creating this government-run healthcare.
Now if you have something that’s broken, it costs too much money, and you have to add $1 to $2 trillion to fix it, I would suggest that that’s going to be a real burden on this economy and it can’t do anything but weigh us down and put us in debt. By the way, it does raise taxes about $800 to $900 billion and produces anywhere from a $239 billion dollar deficit on up to a deficit that approaches a trillion dollars depending on which model you look at. So this is a very, very heavy burden for an economy that’s already carrying a very heavy load.
9) Will we see a significant increase over time in how long people have to wait to get operations, enough to perhaps even be life threatening in some cases?
We know that in some of the other countries that have a single payer plan or socialized medicine program that healthcare is rationed and people are in lines. In Canada, for example, the average waiting period for someone who needs knee replacement surgery is 340 days and for someone who’s waiting for a hip replacement, it’s 196 days. So, we can now look at the models of these single payer socialized medical plans that exist out there and we know that our cancer survival rates are substantially better here in the United States. If you’re going to ration care or delay care, then some people will die in line. I am convinced of that and I don’t think it’s arguable.
10) Last question for you, Congressman. If this bill goes through, do you think we’ll see the government literally refusing life-saving care to older Americans in some cases that would be covered by their insurance today in order to save money?
You know, I don’t know how to answer that question specifically. I can just say generally that when you see a bill that funds counseling to help counsel people with end of life decisions, what would be the reason for that if it isn’t to tell people, “Why don’t you just go peacefully into the night rather than take this surgery that could potentially be lifesaving?”
I think we should be very, very concerned about a government that would be so much of a Big Brother that they would send out college educated people to counsel you about how to end your life in an economic fashion. That is something that the American people should be outraged about. That violates many of the principles of the sanctity of life and the type of healthcare we have in this country
Congressman, I really appreciate your time.
Well, I appreciate the chance to talk with you. That was an efficient and effective interview. I congratulate you, I thank you and I look forward to the next chat we have.