WASHINGTON – In an 8th District radio address, U.S. Rep. John Tanner discussed the latest developments in Congressional consideration of various health care reform proposals.
Below is a transcript of Congressman Tanner’s remarks:
Hello, this is John Tanner. I want to talk to you a few minutes about the issues surrounding health care reform. As you know, the issue is consuming much time in Washington and across the country, and I wanted to try to provide you an update on where things stand.
First of all, let me stress how complicated this entire issue is. We are not working on this as citizens because the issue is fun or easy. We are working on it because the current health care delivery system is simply not sustainable.
In the United States, the quality of our medical care continues to be very good, and most of us are well-satisfied with our insurance plans, but the system through which we finance care is far from perfect. Inefficiencies, waste and ineffective payment incentives increase the costs and fail many times to reward high-quality care.
Medical costs – insurance premiums, deductibles and so on – are breaking the budgets of families and small businesses in Tennessee, as well as the federal budget. We will never be able to balance the federal budget and maintain our economic freedom if we do not somehow stem the ever-rising cost of health care.
For these reasons, most of us realize that reform of our country’s health care system is needed. It’s needed for the part that is broken, and we need to continue the part that works.
Five committees – three in the House and two in the Senate – are working on various versions of health care reform legislation. There is not yet a final bill to vote on. Many of the provisions being discussed are good ideas: incentives for higher quality; administrative simplification; coordinated care; maintenance of the employer-based system; and a clause that says patients cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
However, we have concerns – those of us in the Blue Dogs – about the testimony of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which indicated that the health reform bills that have thus far been introduced do not contain or achieve the long-term cost containment which is critical to the success of any reform effort. Because of these concerns and others, I had to vote against the current legislation during consideration in the Ways and Means Committee.
The problems facing the Congress with health care reform are as challenging as any domestic issue I have ever encountered. Everyone agrees that the overall goals of health reform should be cost containment, consumer choice, increased access and the maintenance of our high standard of quality care. Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees on how to achieve those goals, but everyone stands to benefit if we, together, can get it right.
I’m going to continue to talk with Members of Congress to produce a bill that provides accessible, affordable health care that all of us can be proud of.
In that vein, I welcome warmly any ideas that you may want to send to our offices in Tennessee or in Washington. I appreciate your time, and as this matter unfolds, I hope we can stay in touch and in contact, because this is a big deal. It affects all of us, and it is something that if we get right, all of us will reap benefits from, and our nation can hopefully be a healthier one.
Thank you very much.
About Congressman John Tanner
John Tanner represents the 8th Congressional District in West and Middle Tennessee. Co-founder of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Tanner serves on the Ways and Means Committee, where he chairs the Social Security Subcommittee, and on the Foreign Affairs Committee. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and the Tennessee Army National Guard, Tanner chairs the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and is serving a two-year term as NATO PA President.