Kyl: “We believe doctors – not the federal government – should tailor an individual’s care.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the Republican Whip and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding health-care reform:

“When it comes to health care Republicans want reform that respects freedom, choice, and competition. We want to maintain the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. We believe doctors – not the federal government – should tailor an individual’s care.

“Government-run health care will delay or deny care, require a new bureaucracy, and displace millions of Americans who are happy with their current health insurance. Federal bureaucracies are not known for being efficient, innovative, or hassle free.

“On Wednesday, the majority whip said, ‘Those who come to the floor of the Senate defending the health insurance companies and saying they want no change in the health care system have to defend the indefensible.’

“Who has come to the floor and said they want no change? You can’t just make a charge like that if you’re not willing to back it up. It’s reckless, partisan, and wrong.

“But it’s a familiar refrain from some of our friends on the other side: They present a false choice between doing what they want and doing nothing. When they don’t want to listen to Republican ideas they accuse us of wanting to do nothing. It happened with the stimulus, and it’s happening with health care. Republicans want health-care reform. I have said this repeatedly, and so has Senator McConnell.

“Problems are abundant in our current system. A routine visit to the doctor can be surprisingly expensive. Too many Americans have to go without basic care for a host of reasons – whether they are unemployed, work for a business that doesn’t have health care, or have a preexisting condition.

“The task before us is to ensure that all Americans have access to quality health care without degrading the quality of care for anyone. And by access to health care I do not mean access to a government waiting list.

“There are two ways to approach health-care reform while trying to keep costs in line.

“One, which President Obama says he rejects, is to create a competitive marketplace in which consumers get to pick the plan that works best for their families. Competition helps the consumer. The more competition, the better.

“The other is for the government to ration care by deciding what treatments you can get and which medications you can have. Yes, you can cut costs this way, but it’s not right. And it’s not what Americans want.

“Nor is it what physicians want. The American Medical Association – an organization of 250,000 of America’s physicians – said in a recent statement that they do not ‘believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs.’

“So, the doctors – those who provide care – are concerned about what government-run health care would mean for their patients and for the uninsured Americans who need to get in to see them. Republicans have been discussing the state of health care in Canada and the United Kingdom because those countries have government-run health care, and they delay or deny treatment for many of their citizens to keep costs under control. The Canadian and British governments created these systems with the best of intentions, but government-run care is not serving their citizens’ needs. And we don’t need to replicate their problems here in the United States.

“In fact, in Canada, Claude Castonguay, chair of the commission which recommended that Quebec establish a government-run system in the 1960s, declared last year that the system is in ‘crisis.’ Private clinics are opening all over Canada at the rate of one per week to treat those who are on waiting lists at public hospitals. Many of Canadians who have the resources to get out of the bureaucratic government system choose to do so.

“As the Republican leader pointed out today, Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence—the entity responsible for setting guidelines on pharmaceuticals and treatments for British patients—last year denied patients in that country access to four kidney cancer drugs that have the potential to elongate their lives.

“The Institute explained it this way: ‘Although these treatments are clinically effective, regrettably, the cost… is such that they are not a cost-effective use of…resources.’ A chilling statement, indeed. The stories of patients being denied treatment by their governments are real.

“President Obama and some of my colleagues in the Senate, like the majority whip, have argued that a ‘public,’ or a government-run option, can compete with other insurers, and that this government-run option would only be one choice of many. Why is it needed? And what will it do?

“Government-run health care would crowd out other insurers, quickly becoming a monopoly. Someone who has insurance through his or her company could be forced into the government plan if the employer decides it’s simpler and cheaper to pay a fine to the federal government and eliminate its coverage. The company might say, why bother with the paperwork and administration when we can just pay a fine and tell people to get on the government’s insurance rolls?

“That’s what the health experts say will happen. The Lewin Group has estimated that 119 million people will be shifted from a private plan onto a government-run plan, if it’s created. That would affect two-thirds of the 170 million Americans who currently have private insurance, all but ending private insurance in America.

“President Obama said recently, ‘If we don’t get it done this year we’re not going to get it done.’ Well, why is that? Could it be because President Obama would prefer we rush a bill through before Americans get a chance to absorb what government-run health care would mean for their families? If this is worth doing; it’s worth taking the time to do it right.

“Americans are compassionate and want coverage for their neighbors, as well as for their own families. But they rightly worry about the cost, and they don’t want the federal government to cover others at their expense, both in cost and in rationed care.

“We haven’t heard much about the exact price of government-run health care. But we know the cost will be extremely high, and whatever we spend won’t be enough to ensure all Americans get access to the care they need.

“We need a real marketplace of options. Choice, freedom, and competition should be the guiding principles for the health-care reform we all want.”