As one of the first acts of the 112th Congress, I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues – including every member of the Oklahoma delegation – and voted to repeal the government takeover of health care. Also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this bill was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 after more than 18 months of heated debate on both sides. And while I’m sure there were people in then-Speaker Pelosi’s district in San Francisco that liked this bill, I couldn’t find many in the Third District of Oklahoma.
In my annual 50 town halls tour last year, I spoke with my constituents and I heard your concerns with this legislation. And I made a promise to each of you that I would fight to repeal this harmful law and replace it with real reforms that would lower health care costs, provide greater access to health care in rural America, and not put federal bureaucrats between you and your doctors.
In Oklahoma, we don’t fall for accounting gimmicks that make bills seem less expensive than they really are. Comparing 10 years of tax hikes against only 6 years of spending does not give you the full picture of the overwhelming burden this legislation will place on our country for generations. With a price tag of $2.6 trillion and a $701 billion increase to the deficit over ten years, our country simply cannot afford this. And it could get even worse. For all the good that Medicare has done since it was created in 1965, it was estimated it would cost $12 billion by 1990. Instead, in 1990, Medicare cost $96 billion – that’s an 800 ncrease over the projections. And in 2010, it cost almost $450 billion.
We can all agree that change is needed within our health care system. We want improvements, but don’t believe it should be paid with tax increases and federal mandates on hard working American families and small businesses. It is time to sit down and start over with real reforms supported by the American people that will really make health care more affordable. Over the next few months, we will be holding hearings and drafting legislation to replace the president’s takeover of our health care system. These solutions will not be crafted in the dead of the night, behind closed doors, and without input from the American people. Instead, we will have an open process that allows people from both sides of the aisle to work together to come up with the best solution.
I encourage you to contact my office over the coming year and let me know your opinions. I also hope you will join me at one of my 50 town hall meetings next year. As the meetings are scheduled, you will receive a notice in the mail and the schedule will be available on my website at www.house.gov/lucas/townhalls.shtml.
Frank Lucas represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For more Frankly Speakings, please visit Rep. Lucas’ Blog at /resources/frankly-speaking.