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John L.
Democrat CT 1

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  • Jobs, Security, and the Well-Being of the Country

    by Representative John B. Larson

    Posted on 2013-06-26

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    LARSON of Connecticut. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe I will be joined by my colleague from Ohio (Mr. Ryan), whom I will recognize at the appropriate time.

    We wanted to make this Special Order this evening about solution- driven legislation and about the need on behalf of the United States Congress to come together in a nonpartisan manner and get after the concerns that this Nation cares so deeply about, most notably those as they relate to jobs and security and the well-being of the country.

    This evening, Mr. Speaker, what if I told you that we could deal with all of the rising costs of health care, bring down the national debt and that we could do so while providing better quality, coordinated patient-centered care? {time} 1650 There might be some skepticism. What if I further told you that we could do it without raising taxes or cutting Medicare? In fact, what if we did it by extending the benefits of Medicare? What if I were to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that this idea germinated with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative organization dedicated to conservative ideas, and was piloted by a Republican Governor in a Democratic State and served as the basis for what we now call the Affordable Health Care Act? The Affordable Health Care Act, in its final form, was something that a number of colleagues on the Democratic side didn't necessarily prefer. It was not their first choice. A number wanted to see a single- payer system or Medicare for all, but that is not what transpired and that is not what is the law of the land nor is what is upheld by the Supreme Court.

    We need, in this body, a paradigm shift that will allow us to come together and embrace the ideas that we all agree upon in a way that we can move this Nation forward. The budget leader in the Republican conference is Paul Ryan, a distinguished, bright, and capable gentleman. We agree that health care costs are what are driving our national debt. There is no doubt about that. Statistics will reveal that.

    Further, when it comes to improving patient care, patient outcomes, making sure that we provide for our elderly, making sure that we have a continuum of care for people, that's something that's neither Democrat nor Republican. That's something that is truly American and that we all agree on.

    Where we may disagree but where we can come together is in recognition of how we get to the solution, solve this problem, instead of these endless ``tastes great, less filling'' debates that go on in the United States Congress. To do so, you have to be bolstered by studies.

    This slide will show that there are no less than 10 different studies that have been authored by private sector individuals that all point to one thing: that there's $750 billion to $800 billion annually that's wasted in fraud, abuse, and inefficiencies.

    This evening, we want to focus on the inefficiencies, noting of course that fraud, abuse, and waste are very important, have been documented several times on ``60 Minutes'' and other notable sources as well, and certainly is something that will help us in terms of bringing down the costs of health care, which, of course, solves our problems with the national debt.

    Health care costs in the United States of America have risen to 18 percent of our gross domestic product. This next slide will demonstrate clearly that we are way above every other Western democracy, and this is what the inefficiencies of a system have produced: a hodgepodge system that is inefficient and driven upward in its cost because of the lack of coordinated care and outcomes that suggest a new paradigm shift and people coming together and embracing that which is in the public health care system that works and does extraordinarily well, all that's in the realm of science, technology, and innovation that we get from the National Institutes of Health and for the Centers for Disease Control that have been taxpayer funded and produced miraculous opportunities and a better quality of life.

    Then, thirdly, to embrace that with the private sector, entrepreneurial efforts to drive inefficiencies out of a system. This chart demonstrates how that can be done and that there is both the profit in doing it for the private sector and the results of lowering that cost for the public sector and an outcome for patients that is centered around wellness, their well-being and their security in the later years of their life. It's that combination that we believe can work.

    How do we know that that is so? We're fortunate to see, even in this time of politics where there has been disagreement and too much politics around the quality of health care, that our citizens rightly deserve and the private sector in our hospitals with our doctors, with our surgeons, with our medical devices, and with our entrepreneurship are coming to embrace. The passage of the Affordable Health Care Act is, in fact, a paradigm shift.

    What do we need to shift to? How do we need to move that forward? Mark Bertolini, the president of Aetna, based in Hartford, Connecticut, said that the one thing we have to make sure of is that we're not taking away benefits from people who are going to pay for the medical devices--the hospitals, the doctors, the insurance, and the pharmaceuticals that they all need. We need to enhance that system.

    Economists like Clayton Christensen have talked at length about how we need to be disruptive in economies, and in doing so, disruptive in terms of our innovation. With the genomic projects at hand and the potential for people to be living well beyond the age of 100 for my children and for current generations, as we all know obviously living longer, there's a need for us to embrace commonsense solutions and not issues that either say we have to drive down the debt at the expense of beneficiaries or that we have to raise taxes to help the beneficiaries.

    How about we drive out the inefficiencies within the system, get after [[Page H4075]] the fraud, abuse, and the waste, and work together as Democrats and Republicans and achieve the goals that we were sent here to do by both lowering the national debt and securing the future by making sure that there is Medicare there for all of our recipients? I think of so many people nearing the age of retirement who get trapped in this gap. Once you turn 56, you start thinking, Is my company going to keep me to age 65? What is going to happen to my pension? But most importantly, what is the bridge I'm able to take to get to Medicare and will it be there? There's got to be a resounding ``yes,'' and the important thing is that there's a path forward to this.

    Two things that are important to remember: One, that the national debt is real and that we all agree that it has to be addressed, and the primary driver is health care; Secondly, Medicare is not an entitlement. It's the insurance that people paid for. It's taken out of your paycheck. And if we drive the inefficiencies out of the system, we actually can enhance the Medicare system and make it solvent well into the future while paying down our national debt.

    {time} 1700 That should be the focus of the United States Congress. It will help the economy, but most of all, it will help people in terms of the quality of care that they need. This is what we hope to achieve in Special Orders and prevailing upon our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together and discuss solutions that will both reduce the debt and preserve the Medicare system.

    A person who understands this better than most, who has made firsthand trips to hospitals and has written books, in fact, or at least a book, as I seek to credit you beyond your authorship, Mr. Ryan, but certainly someone who understands the importance of coordinating care in such a manner that an enlightened new Republic that we are will be able to participate in the wholeness and wellness that can come from this paradigm shift afforded by the Affordable Care Act, and where reasonable minds can come together to achieve these goals. I yield to my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Ryan).

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