Congressional Republicans Speak Out against Obama's Plan for Government-Owned Health Care
June 11, 2009 - 4:38 PMRepublican leaders in both the House and Senate voiced opposition Thursday to the Obama administration's plan to establish a government-run health insurance entity, saying it made no sense to give government control over health care.
House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that House Republicans were against Obama’s idea, “period.” Boehner said that any American who does not want their doctor’s office to be run like the Department of Motor Vehicles should oppose the plan, too.
“I’m opposed to the government option, period,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference Thursday. “If you like going to the DMV and you think they do a great job, or if you like going to the post office and think it’s the most efficient thing you’ve run into, then you’ll love the government-run health care system, because that’s basically what you’re going to have.”
Boehner, appearing with Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said that congressional Democrats were leading Americans off the same cliff they had been led over before on bank bailouts and economic stimulus.
“Washington has asked the middle class to bankroll trillions in spending that we know we can’t afford,” said Boehner. “Now it appears that Democrats are ready to lead the middle class off the cliff again.”
The top House Republican claimed that a government plan would raise prices and replace doctors with Washington bureaucrats, letting the federal government effectively take over American healthcare.
“The Democrats are urging a bill that raises taxes, it rations care, and puts bureaucrats, instead of doctors and patients, in charge of medical decisions. It amounts to a government takeover of health care,” said Boehner.
Kirk, a moderate Republican, asked why anyone would want a bankrupt federal government attempting to administer a national health care plan.
“With the federal government already $1.8 trillion in debt, would you really put that institution that’s already out of money in charge of your family’s health care?” he asked.
Republican Senators were equally opposed, with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), calling the proposal a “mish-mash of liberal ideas.”
“We are opposed to a government-run plan!” Hatch exclaimed at a health care press conference Thursday. “It is a complete liberal mish-mash of ideas. I don’ think we should make the mistake of assuming that the federal government is the solution to every problem we have in health care.”
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that Obama’s government-run plan was just the latest in a long line of government takeovers of previously private industries.
“This administration has a bad habit of Washington takeovers,” Alexander said. “We’ve had a Washington takeover of banks, a Washington takeover of student loans, a Washington takeover of car companies. We don’t want to see a government-sponsored insurance system that amounts inevitably to a Washington takeover of our national health care system.”
Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which is drafting a health care bill, said that Republicans fear a government plan would crowd private insurance out, violating a promise made by Obama himself that people with private insurance could keep it.
“It would violate a pledge that we’ve heard from the president when he said that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.”
Enzi said a government-run option was a “non-starter” for Republicans, who fear it could be a slippery slope to government running “everything.”
“We’ve been saying all along that it is kind of a litmus test, a non-starter,” said Enzi. “Not just in the short term but in the long term it’s a major concern, that it’s a slippery slope to having the government run everything. Quite frankly, people in America think that government has trouble running government, so if we’re going to have a government-run plan, we’re going to have some real difficulties.”
Competition can work, Enzi argued, so long as the government is not the one setting the prices and controlling the terms.
“Competition can work,” he said. “But it can’t if the government is setting the timetables and the prices and that’s the kind of plan that’s being envisioned, a government-run plan.”