Health Care Hearing 2

In Houston on Friday, July 18th, a congressional hearing took place on a bill that would dramatically change health care as we know it in the United States for every single citizen, yet Saturday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle didn’t even mention the fact that this hearing took place.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, along with Congressman John Conyers, Jr., conducted a congressional hearing at The Health Museum on H.R. 676, “The United States National Health Insurance Act.” This bill would “expand the already existing Medicare program to all U.S. residents. . .” (quoting from handout provided at the hearing). This bill would require every citizen to apply for and receive a United States National Health Insurance Card. It sets up a “program [that] would cover all medically necessary services, including primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs. . .mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment.” Private insurers would not be allowed to “duplicate the benefits” of this program. They would only be allowed to “provide coverage for cosmetic surgery and other non-medically necessary treatments.” All for-profit hospitals and medical facilities would have to convert to private, non-profit institutions within fifteen years. Basically, H.R. 676 is a bill that would nationalize all healthcare in the United States.

At first glance, some may think that providing health insurance for all Americans would improve the health of all concerned. Instead, this plan would destroy the very health care system on which we all rely. Our health care system is the best and most innovative in the world because doctors, hospitals, and other health related industries still have the freedom to operate their businesses for a profit. This motivates them to provide the best care, best services, and best innovations. Not only do they receive the rewards of their hard work in terms of gaining a profit, but the patient is also the beneficiary.

Why should every American be concerned for their very lives under H.R. 676? This bill is a blatant violation of the individual rights of all citizens. It violates the rights of doctors to determine the price of their services, to create “for profit” practices, to decide what insurance plans they will accept or what patients they will see and what treatments to offer. It violates the rights of all health insurance company owners and workers because this bill will essentially put that entire industry out of business. It also violates the rights of every citizen where it counts most: their health. U.S. citizens will no longer be able to choose their insurance providers or coverage plans. We will no longer be able to consult with our doctors and choose the best treatments for us because the government will control what services will be provided. We will no longer have a choice as to how much we want to pay for health insurance because all productive citizens and businesses will be forced to pay a new tax, which will no doubt increase over time.

What this bill will do is effectively ruin the healthcare system for everybody. Would doctors be motivated to provide the best care possible if they aren’t allowed to own their own practices, to decide the insurance or patients they will accept, or to determine the cost of their services? Will hospitals be motivated to provide the best care if they aren’t allowed to make a profit or to decide the cost of their services? Would other medical technology companies and pharmaceutical companies be motivated to invest in research and development if they know that the use of their products will depend upon pleasing some government bureaucrat? Think of healthcare as run like the post office, public schools, or the DMV office: incompetent and ineffective service, long lines, unhappy workers, and little choice. That’s exactly what politicians like Sheila Jackson Lee and John Conyers, Jr. want to do to our healthcare system. These bad effects can already be seen with the ever expanding Medicare and Medicaid programs. Just last week, the Houston Chronicle ran a story pointing out that a large number of doctors in Texas are refusing to take on more Medicaid or Medicare patients because of the red tape and low pay they have to endure. What happens when our entire system becomes one big Medicare program?

At the hearing, time and again the politicians bemoaned the fact that our current healthcare system is “broken.” Did they ever stop to ask why the system is broken? Since the 1960s with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, the government has been slowly encroaching upon the rights of doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and patients. They have continued to pass laws and regulations over the past four decades to try to “fix” the mess that they’ve created. Now some politicians want to finish the job and make the takeover complete.

At the very least, the Houston Chronicle should have informed its readership that a congressional hearing took place over extremely controversial legislation that our very own Congresswoman is supporting. This would give people a chance to consider this very important issue and decide for themselves the ramifications of “Medicare for All.”

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