The following originally appeared as an op-ed in USA Today. -Team Hatch
Affordable and quality health care for every American is neither a Republican nor a Democratic issue -- it is an American issue. Unfortunately, the current health care bills before Congress are too partisan, too expensive and too big-government for most Americans to support.
As congressional Democrats inch towards going it alone on health reform, I ask them to do what American families are demanding -- step back, take a deep breath and start over on a truly bipartisan bill. Using a partisan "reconciliation" process to jam a bill that deals with one-sixth of our economy with 20 hours of Senate debate -- less than one full day -- would be one of the most irresponsible actions that the majority could take.
Last month, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that our nation's deficit for 2009 will be a staggering $1.6 trillion, and our national debt is on a path to double within the next five years and triple within the next decade. And this is all before factoring in the massive price tag associated with the current health care proposals.
We need to take a more targeted approach. The current bill would saddle Americans with higher taxes, more unemployment and fewer health care choices. Not to mention that it would drive our states to bankruptcy and lead us down a path to a Washington-driven health care system.
By focusing on areas of compromise rather than strife, we can reach consensus on a financially responsible and targeted bill that could earn the support of Republicans, Democrats and, more important, American families.
We can reform the health insurance market to ensure that no one is denied coverage or care simply because of a pre-existing condition; provide greater transparency on cost and choice; curb frivolous lawsuits; encourage chronic care management to better control the health of the sickest and most costly patients; and promote prevention and wellness initiatives to keep Americans healthy.
We should also give states the flexibility to design their own unique approaches to reducing the number of uninsured instead of trying to force or foist a one-size-fits-all solution on the states. Furthermore, we need to help small businesses -- the economic engine that creates 70% of American jobs -- and the self-employed to buy affordable coverage by allowing them to band together and buy insurance just like large corporations.
At a time when we are drowning in red ink, and government-run programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are headed for financial insolvency, the last thing we need is another big federal spending bill that puts the focus on Washington instead of our families. It is possible to achieve meaningful and bipartisan reform this year. To do that, however, we must be more responsible and realistic in our health care reform initiatives to craft legislation that we all can be proud of.