Tom Tancredo on Health Care
Republican Representative (CO-6)
Now, if thereís a federal role, I completely accept the idea of giving people the greater individual opportunity to use health savings accounts. Why? Because that takes individuals. They become the consumer in the marketplace dealing directly with the provider.
Thatís called a marketplace. That will drive down the costs. Get the federal government [out]--donít even talk about [government] responsibilities, because they always [would make people think that] naturally the federal government should be involved. It shouldnít.
I also believe that you should be able to get your drugs from any place that, in fact, itís cheaper to get drugs. If itís cheaper to get drugs in Canada, get drugs from Canada--itís OK with me. We shouldnít be blocking that.
A: The important thing, the most important thing to remember about your health care is itís your health care. You have a personal responsibility here, every single person does, to do everything they can to stay healthy. Most of the things that happen to us are lifestyle problems, and, really, I mean, there are things that we do to ourselves that cause us to then have to access the health care industry. We have to first look to ourselves, individually. Again, itís kind of a scary thing again to say, but, you know, individual responsibility does work, also in health care. Again, individual freedom--expand individual freedom and take some individual responsibility for your own health care.
A: Let me suggest we think about something in the area of health care that perhaps is unique, different and scary to some people, but that is this: Itís not the responsibility of the federal government to provide womb-to-tomb health care for America. And so, we constantly debate on exactly what way we want to push government control of this issue, but in every way weíre doing it, itís unhealthy. It is unhealthy to have a government health-care plan in America. There are some things we can do, absolutely. The expansion of health savings accounts that increases individual responsibly. The allowing for people to actually take the reimportation of prescription drugs.
Q: I know you voted against the expansion of the childrenís health insurance this week.
A: You bet I did.
A: I donít believe that the president of the United States should be putting forth a plan to do such a thing. The reality is that technology and the advancement of technology in a variety of areas is going at a pace where I believe we can look forward to cures -- we can look forward to a variety of things that will allow us to cure diseases that today we do not have cures for. But the idea that I think is inherent in this question, that somehow we should be growing these things, somehow we should be cloning people for the purpose of using these kinds of their attributes is ridiculous. I absolutely would not support it.
One reason Americans pay so much to care for illegal aliens is a federal law that prohibits hospitals from turning away any patients--whether legal citizens or not--due to their inability to pay. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) declares that every emergency room must treat all patients who arrive with an ďemergency.Ē An emergency can consist of a cough, headache, hangnail, cardiac arrest, herniated lumbar disc, drug addition, alcohol overdose, gunshot wound, HIV-positive infection, or mental disorders. That means anyone who comes to an emergency room must be treated to the best of that hospitalís ability, or transferred, even if the patient doesnít have a thin dime. Not that that isnít a compassionate policy for Americans, mind you. The problem is the law is abused by illegal aliens who come to the US to obtain health care.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. PALLONE. This is a comprehensive bill which will establish full mental health and addiction care parity. The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 authorized for 5 years partial parity by mandating that the annual and lifetime dollar limit for mental health treatment under group health plans offering mental health coverage be no less than that for physical illnesses. This bill requires full parity and also protects against discrimination by diagnosis.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. DEAL of Georgia: I am a supporter of the concept of mental health parity, but this bill before us today is not the correct approach. This path will raise the price of health insurance, and would cause some to lose their health insurance benefits and some employers to terminate mental health benefits altogether.
The bill's focus is also overly broad. Our legislation should focus on serious biologically-based mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, not on jet lag and caffeine addiction, as this bill would include. There are no criteria for judicial review, required notice and comment, or congressional review of future decisions.
I would ask my colleagues to vote "no" today so that we can take up the Senate bill and avoid a possible stalemate in a House-Senate conference on an issue that should be signed into law this Congress.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 268-148
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: This Act would enroll all 6 million uninsured children who are eligible, but not enrolled, for coverage under existing programs.
PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE: Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. My Administration strongly supports reauthorization of SCHIP. [But this bill, even with changes, does not meet the requirements I outlined].
It would still shift SCHIP away from its original purpose by covering adults. It would still include coverage of many individuals with incomes higher than the median income. It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill protects health insurance coverage for some 6 million children who now depend on SCHIP. It provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. Together, this is a total of better than 10 million young Americans who, without this legislation, would not have health insurance.
The bill makes changes to accommodate the President's stated concerns.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.
It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.
Opponents support voting NO because:
Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.
Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
To prohibit the use of Federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening program.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Rep. PAUL: This bill forbids Federal funds from being used for any universal or mandatory mental health screening of students without the express, written, voluntary, informed consent of their parents or legal guardian. This bill protects the fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing and education of their children.
[A Congressional commission] recommends that universal or mandatory mental health screening first be implemented in public schools as a prelude to expanding it to the general public. However, neither the commission's report nor any related mental health screening proposal requires parental consent before a child is subjected to mental health screening. Federally-funded universal or mandatory mental health screening in schools without parental consent could lead to labeling more children as "ADD" or "hyperactive" and thus force more children to take psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, against their parents' wishes.
Many children have suffered harmful side effects from using psychotropic drugs. Some of the possible side effects include mania, violence, dependence, and weight gain. Yet, parents are already being threatened with child abuse charges if they resist efforts to drug their children. Imagine how much easier it will be to drug children against their parents' wishes if a Federally-funded mental health screener makes the recommendation.
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