Bill, as currently written, increases costs, could reduce access to care

U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today issued the following statement regarding H.R. 3200, the House Democrats? healthcare reform bill:

?To say I have deep, serious concerns about the House legislation would be a gross understatement and, in its current form, I will not support it.

?The details we know raise real questions about access to care for South Jersey families and the future of the critical doctor-patient relationship. This legislation ignores the legitimate concerns of our healthcare providers, mandates all Americans to pay for coverage or pay a fine, and proposes large tax increases on small businesses. And, due to the creation of new bureaucracies with an independent commission and so-called ?health czar,? who would not be held accountable to the American people.

?Furthermore, the details that are currently unknown could pose a substantial threat to individuals who like their current healthcare coverage. Previously routine preventative screenings, such as mammograms for women, could plausibly be restricted based on risk or age. Services once offered under one?s private plan could be denied under the newly-created government plan.

?These facts are not lost on the world-renowned Mayo Clinic who recently stated, ?the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite. In general, the proposals under discussion are not patient focused or results oriented?The real losers will be the citizens of the United States.?

?Moreover, the current House bill is especially bad news for South Jersey. Specifically, given our state?s already high taxes, having our small businesses mandated to provide coverage to employees or pay a penalty would cripple job-creation opportunities. With significant cuts to federal reimbursement rates, our home health care providers and community-based doctors may no longer be able to care for those who rely on Medicare, and our local hospitals would face $330 million in cuts over the next decade.

?I was equally alarmed when the Director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) declared the current House bill would not reduce overall costs and actually add hundreds of billions to the national debt. With a price-tag up to $1.6 trillion, the current House bill would add $239 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

?As with previous major policy issues, I have consulted various healthcare professionals across South Jersey ? from nurses to doctors to the heads of our local hospitals, hospices and home health providers ? to gauge the real impact of how proposed reforms will impact healthcare in our region. I have discussed the positives and negatives with our local Chambers of Commerce, various small business owners and our seniors, and each day, I review phone opinions from my constituents.

?There are several good provisions included in the House bill; from making preventative care more accessible and eliminating restrictions on coverage for those with preexisting conditions, to increasing investment in community health centers. But the bill fails to include real, critical reforms, such as medical malpractice reform, that would bring down the total cost. Furthermore, it is so broadly written and on such a fast track that, if voted on now, the American people would still not know all of the ramifications.

?It is critically important we get this healthcare reform done right. Negotiations are ongoing in the House and Senate, and should be allowed to continue until a consensus healthcare reform bill is written. I firmly believe we need to take a step back, re-examine and rethink the entire package, and spend the time to write legislation that keeps its focus on ensuring access for patients, protecting the doctor-patient relationship, and promoting the results-oriented goal of healthy outcomes. The current House bill is not that bill and therefore I will not support it.?


Note: Congressman LoBiondo has always paid for his own healthcare insurance, and has never accepted the taxpayer-funded plan offered to Members of Congress.

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