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Blunt: GOP Already Taking Innovative Approach

There are few issues that have garnered as much attention lately as the issue of health care reform. Costs are too high, access is too limited outside of your employer, and American families and small businesses are looking for help. There is bipartisan consensus on those facts. So that’s probably a good place to start looking for solutions.

I attended President Barack Obama’s health care summit at the White House and appreciated the opportunity to lay the groundwork for what I hope will be many future discussions. During the meeting I told Obama again that Republicans are ready to work with him to improve the health care system in America.

In fact, Republicans are already working to develop new, innovative approaches to this issue through the Health Care Solutions Working Group that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) asked me to chair.

The group brings together 20 of my Republican colleagues with the mission of putting ideas on the table that would expand Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. We’re also going to make sure there is an open and honest discussion about the tradeoffs and consequences a government-run system would have on your family.

Republicans are working to put together common-sense proposals that build and expand on what works in our current health care system while fixing what doesn’t. We don’t need to rehash the polarizing debate we’ve had for the past decade. As a group, we are spending a lot of time doing our homework and talking with experts from every piece of the health care puzzle. We are talking to doctors, consumers, business owners and policy experts from our districts and around the country.

What we’re hearing back home isn’t what’s being discussed in Washington, D.C. A lot of people here are talking about how to spend more of your money on bigger government-run programs.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report last December that stated, “reducing or slowing spending over the long term would probably require decreasing the pace of adopting new treatments and procedures or limiting the breadth of their application.— That’s government-speak for rationing your health care, and it’s likely what will happen if the government starts getting too involved. It’s my fear that an inefficient program run from D.C. will eventually push out private health care options.

Worse yet, your employer might simply stop offering coverage, hoping the government will pick up the slack. Imagine a government-run system that looks like a government agency we are pretty familiar with, the Department of Motor Vehicles. Mountains of paperwork, long lines and being processed through based on a number. I don’t want my health care system to look like that, and you probably don’t either.

One fatal flaw of a Washington-controlled health care system is the same fatal flaw that exists in every government program. You see, government officials tell you how much they care about a problem based on how much of your money they throw at it. No one really ever stops to evaluate the results or even ask whether the money is being spent on top priorities. The government never gets the price right: overpaying for some services, underpaying for others. It’s a recipe for unfair rationing of care.

Those are all good reasons the government needs to stay out of your doctor’s examining room.

Republicans are committed to common-sense solutions. The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is an example. For the first time, the government organized a private, competition-driven system rather than operating the system. Cost is lower; satisfaction is higher; seniors have more options — competition works and it puts you and your doctor in the driver’s seat.

We’re ready to work across the aisle in good faith. But a system run by someone in Washington, a system that rations treatment options and dictates to doctors how to practice medicine, is not the right course for our country. It also isn’t an option if this administration is serious about bipartisanship.

We can and must do better when it comes to health care. The time has come to modernize our current system, and Republicans are up to the challenge — and it’s a challenge we, as a nation, must face together.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is chairman of the House Republicans’ Health Care Solutions Working Group.

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