Real Concerns About Democrats' Health Care Agenda

Posted: Jun 24, 2009 1:34 PM
Guest blog post by Rep. Ed Whitfield (Kent.)

While I am committed to improving the nation’s health care system and providing affordable health care to all Americans, I have some very serious concerns with this draft health care bill. As Congress works to improve our nation’s health care system, we need to consider proposals which will not mandate government-run health care but instead leave important health care decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors.

There are preliminary estimates that this health care proposal could cost over $2 trillion dollars and possibly go to serve adult illegal immigrants in non-emergency care situations.
The Safeway approach to health care, as modeled in a recent article by Safeway CEO Steven Burd, shows how to lower health care costs by rewarding employees that practice healthy behavior with lower premiums. This has in turn kept their per capita healthcare costs flat, while most American companies’ costs have increased 38% during the same time period.
Safeway’s plan capitalizes on two key insights gained in 2005: 70% of health care costs are the direct result of behavior, and 74% of all costs are confined to four chronic conditions (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity). Congress could learn a lot from the Safeway model and should work to incorporate a number of these practices into comprehensive health care reform legislation.

I am crafting a health care reform proposal and expect to introduce it in the following weeks. The package aims to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care; ensure that the chronically ill are able to receive the treatment they need; enhance and encourage medical research and health information technology; make information on health care options more readily available for patients; and make it more affordable for businesses to provide health care coverage for their employees.

Congressman Whitfield represents Kentucky's 1st congressional district and serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
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