U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) voted against H.R. 3962, the 2,000-page health care bill that was introduced last week rushed through Congress by Speaker Nancy Pelosi without thorough consideration. Rep. Dent said the trillion-dollar legislation not only fails to address health-care costs, but will diminish Americans’ control over their health care decisions, reduce seniors’ Medicare benefits, force low-income families to pay more for their children to receive less coverage, place far too many jobs in jeopardy, and slow our nation’s economic growth.
“Everyone in America understands the need for health care reform,” Congressman Dent said. “But H.R. 3962 is an expensive gamble that will hurt the American people far more than it helps.
“It’s bad for Americans because it won’t reduce health care costs — in fact many will see increased costs — and it will cause millions of working Americans to lose their current coverage.
“It’s bad for seniors. The bill includes nearly a half-trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare benefits. It will mean less choices, as well as increased premiums and prescription drugs costs for thousands of seniors in the Fifteenth District.
“It’s bad for Pennsylvania’s children, who will be forced out of the state’s successful CHIP program into plans offered through the national health insurance exchange where families will face higher costs.
“It’s bad for Pennsylvania’s already struggling budget, forcing an unfunded Medicaid mandate of at least $2.2 billion on our cash-strapped Commonwealth.
“It’s bad for small businesses. It will stifle innovation and job creation by imposing punitive surtaxes. It’s bad for the Pennsylvania economy in particular, with a $20 billion tax on the makers of medical devices, an industry that employs thousands in my district and the surrounding region.
“And above all it’s bad for America, spending more than $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars to create an unsustainable new federal program and saddling our children and grandchildren with debt. Only in Washington can someone say with a straight face that by creating a new trillion dollar program that we will not add a dime to the deficit now or in the future. Overall, this bill moves our nation in the direction of a European-style Welfare state — the type of nation where 10 percent unemployment will be the norm rather than an aberration.”
Congressman Dent thoroughly reviewed H.R. 3962 and its impact on his constituents. He noted that important reforms were also lacking, such as medical liability reform, which the Congressional Budget Office has said will save $54 billion. In fact, language in the new bill actually discourages states from enacting effective medical liability reforms, protecting trial lawyers at the expense of patients.
Congressman Dent offered an amendment to the bill that would have provided real liability reforms – however, like any other effort to scale back the bill’s harmful provisions, Speaker Pelosi wouldn’t allow the House to even debate this amendment.
“With common sense, bipartisan discussion, we can make straightforward reforms to our health care system that will address the most pressing problems. We can enact strong insurance market reforms that provide consumer protections and promote transparency. We can ensure that those with chronic conditions and pre-existing conditions have coverage through high-risk pools and reinsurance models. We can actually lower the cost of health care and increase access to affordable coverage by removing restrictive barriers on competition across state lines, allowing businesses to pool together to get the same buying power as their larger competitors, equalizing tax treatment for individuals buying health insurance, and enacting meaningful medical liability reform. We can put our nation on the path to a healthier future by focusing on prevention and wellness.”
“Today, the House majority has failed the American people by forcing this ill-conceived legislation. I hope we have not missed an opportunity to unite behind meaningful reforms that will reduce cost and increase access without fundamentally altering the American economy.”