In 2004, Senator Hillary Clinton told her audience at a fundraiser in San Francisco: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Her recently announced healthcare plan, or HillaryCare II, does take things away from middle-class America but radically fails to provide any public good. Stripping patients’ choice and access in exchange for government-run healthcare is not the prescription America needs.
Coverage is only one component of our healthcare system. Another, often overlooked, aspect is access. Simply providing coverage to people does not ensure access to needed healthcare. Poor-paying, slow reimbursement systems force patients onto waiting lists, delaying care in habitually underserved communities. Coverage alone will not benefit anyone without providing access to quality care.
In contrast, Senator Clinton claims her healthcare plan would achieve universal coverage "without creating a new bureaucracy." She correctly implies new bureaucracies would create layers of red tape and remove healthcare decisions from patients. In fact, her plan would create several new bureaucracies, including another Medicare-type program and additional bureaucratic layers to the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management. It aims to expand Medicaid to include childless adults and expand Medicare, which already faces a funding shortfall of more than $32.4 trillion. She neglects the cost of these new bureaucracies and fails to provide a suggestion to pay for Medicare’s existing shortfall.
Her plan promises a "medical home" for patients to receive primary and preventive care, yet it fails to mention our nation’s life-threatening shortage of nurses and physicians. Many of her medical homes, while well intended, would be vacant due to staffing shortages. Her plan would also eliminate choices for seniors by imposing a $10 billion cut in Medicare. Many low-income seniors and minorities choose Medicare Advantage plans to receive additional help through reduced co-payments, deductibles and premiums. Her plan calls such help an "overpayment" and would force many seniors to lose this coverage option.
Further, she promises to "prevent premiums from exceeding a percentage of family income." Unfortunately, government-run programs have a poor track record in this area. Although the federal government pays 75 percent of Medicare Part B premiums, the average monthly premium borne by seniors rose from $43.80 to $93.50 between 1997 and 2007.
Dr. Charles W. Boustany, Jr. was first elected to Congress in December 2004 following a successful career as a cardio-thoracic surgeon. Currently serving his second term in office, Boustany represents Louisiana’s Seventh Congressional District, which covers the regions of Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana.