The Corner

Three Health-Care Guarantees

Rather than moving quickly to reform our health-care system, it’s more important that we get it done right. Such a massive undertaking requires thoughtful and scrupulous consideration because any mistakes — and the damage they will cause for years to come — will prove nearly impossible to undo. We need look no further than the U.K. to learn that lesson.

That’s why we must work to ensure that elements which the American people simply don’t want aren’t thrust into our health-care apparatus by some in Washington.

There are three areas of agreement on which responsible Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree.

First, the government must not assume decision-making authority over choices that are best left up to the patient and doctor. Choosing a type of care and treatment is an extremely personal affair, and limiting flexibility is unacceptable. Doctors and their patients should not be constrained by the decrees of any Washington commissions, boards, or officials purporting to know what’s best for all people.

Second, we need to ensure that there will be no forced government rationing and no one is discriminated against on any basis. In the U.K., for example, government guidelines in some cases use age in such a way that leads to individuals not receiving the care that they may require. Furthermore, Americans will not tolerate the long waits and reduced access to treatments that are a staple of government-run health-care systems in places like Great Britain and Canada.

And third, we must demonstrate that health-care reform will not break the bank. The administration claims its plan will cost $900 billion over ten years. But it’s far more likely that this figure will swell to well over $1 trillion. Such tremendous spending puts an enormous strain on a federal debt that is already spiraling dangerously out of control. It is nothing short of immoral for Congress and the administration to keep piling debt upon our children. The president has said that he will not support any health-reform bill that adds a dime to the deficit. If he is serious about that, then it is time to push the reset button since all the bills under consideration by the Democrat majorities in the House and Senate will add to the deficit.

In addition, we can certainly all agree that it is objectionable for individuals with pre-existing conditions like MS or Crohn’s Disease to be completely shut out of the insurance market simply because they have a much higher bill for premiums.

These are simple assurances that have been guaranteed in many House Republican health-care bills. As the debate progresses, let’s not seek to change what people like about their health care.

Eric Cantor (R., Va.) is Republican whip in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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