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Ever-Expanding Health Care

President Obama's policy agenda is a lot of things, but it is certainly not sluggish. He has wasted no time highlighting those initiatives he'd like in place - from the cap-and-trade energy tax to a takeover of the American auto industry to radical healthcare reform. And it’s healthcare that has been looming in the background until now, as the President seems to be slowly unraveling his vision.

The Wall Street Journal ran a great piece this morning detailing how government health care programs always start out sounding like benign options and then balloon into something far more. 

Take for instance Medicare. Created in 1965, "benefits were relatively limited and retirees paid a substantial percentage of the costs of their own care. But the clout of retirees has always led to expanding benefits for seniors while raising taxes on younger workers.

"In 1965, Congressional actuaries expected Medicare to cost $3.1 billion by 1970. In 1969, that estimate was revised to $5 billion, and it actually came in at $6.8 billion. That same year, the Senate Finance Committee declared a Medicare cost emergency. In 1979, Jimmy Carter proposed limiting benefits, only to have the bill killed by fellow Democrats. Things have gotten worse since, and Medicare today costs $455 billion and rising.

"Medicaid was intended as a last resort for the poor but now covers one-third of all long-term care expenses in the U.S. -- that is, it has become a middle-class subsidy for aging parents of the Baby Boomers. Its annual bill is $227 billion, and so far this fiscal year is rising by 17%.

"Schip was pitched a decade ago as a safety net for poor kids, and some Republicans helped sell it as a free-market reform. But Schip is now open to families that earn up to 300% of the poverty level, or $63,081 for a family of four. In New York, you can qualify at 400% of poverty."

The Democrats immediate strategy in this march toward socialized medicine is to try and attract just a smattering of Republican support by making it as bland and constrained as possible in its appearance - selling it as a measure with strict limits and boundaries. However, there’s little doubt that as the years progress, more and more money will be needed and more and more bureaucracy added as it grows bigger and bigger.  We've seen it with all the programs that have come before it.

Republicans want to make quality healthcare coverage affordable and accessible for every American, and we want people to retain the ability to make choices and choose options that fit their needs. A government takeover will raise taxes, ration care, and let government bureaucrats in Washington make decisions that should be made by families and their doctors. We cannot allow politicians and special interests to stand between patients and the care they need.

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