Written by John Boehner
Boehner, YouTube Community Call for Different Direction on Health Care Reform
GOP Leader: "I believe that freedom is a right - and that any health care bill that takes away Americans' freedom is wrong."
WASHINGTON, D.C - House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has released a web video for YouTube's Citizen Tube in which he answers five health care questions submitted and voted on by the You Tube community. Boehner recorded the video on Thursday evening shortly after the conclusion of the nationally-televised health care "summit" hosted by President Obama.
"The questions posed to congressional leaders on You Tube are the same questions and concerns I hear from Americans across the country. They want to us scrap the current bill and start over with common-sense, step-by-step measures that lower health care costs. And they want to know why Congress insists on passing massive bills that no one in America has time to read or understand," Boehner said. "My Republican colleagues and I agree a different approach is needed - not just to health care reform, but to the way Congress works on every issue."
In the video, Boehner responds to citizens' questions about health care reform. "I believe that freedom is a right, and that any health care bill that takes away Americans' freedom is wrong," Boehner says in response to one submitted question. In other responses, the Republican Leader expresses his support for health care reforms aimed at lowering Americans' health care costs, such as medical liability reform and allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines, and pledges he will insist on smaller, simpler bills and implement a mandatory 72-hour online reading period for all bills if Republicans are entrusted with the majority.
Over the past year, Republicans have used new media tools to interact directly with the American people. Whether on Twitter, where House Republicans outnumber their Democratic counterparts two-to-one, or YouTube, where eight of the top 10 most-viewed and most-subscribed YouTube channels in Congress are from the GOP, House Republicans are listening to and learning from the American people. Following is the video and the text of Leader Boehner's answers to You Tube:
"Hi, I'm Congressman John Boehner.
"First let me thank the YouTube community for submitting some very thoughtful questions and comments. My colleagues and I believe the best ideas come from you, not from bureaucrats here in Washington. This effort is just one more example of that.
"Before I get into your questions, I want to also make sure you know this isn't the only chance you have to weigh in on the issues that are important to you and your family. Visit GOPLeader.gov to send me a message, or follow and reply to GOPLeader on Twitter. With your help, direct media is making government more transparent and accountable. Forward this video to your friends, and let's work together to make sure Washington listens to the people.
"The first submission is from 'Blinn' in Illinois. Blinn says 'All people voting on these bills should be required to personally read the entire bill before being allowed to vote on it. It is ridiculous that these bills are thousands of pages long. Bills should be written in clear language.'
"Blinn, Americans have the right to know what is in these massive bills before Congress votes on them, and if I become Speaker of the House, we'll run the House differently - differently from the current majority and from past Republican ones. And if I become speaker, there will be a 72 hour reading period before any bill is brought to the floor. It's part of our congressional transparency Initiative - you can check it out at GOPLeader.gov/ReadTheBill.
"But in addition to that, we don't need to have these really big bills. We can keep these bills smaller, more targeted, so that people actually can read them and understand what they're voting on before they come to the floor.
"Next, 'C. Rodgers' from Lincoln, Nebraska asks 'Why not quit artificially limiting the market? Stop tying health insurance to employers and increase the market dramatically. Allow insurance providers to sell across state lines and increase it even more. The larger the market the lower the price.'
"This is really one of the centerpieces of our Republican health care proposal. Marsha Blackburn talked about it today at the summit. Democrats claim they've included it in their bill, but they really haven't.
"What they really are trying to do is say, we've got the same thing - buying across state lines - but only if you go to a government-run exchange with a government mandated health insurance policy that's going to be designed by the government as well.
"Republicans believe that you should be able to buy any insurance policy across state lines and you can decide for yourself fits the needs for you and your family.
"Up next we have Pat from Chicago who asks 'Thompson Reuters had performed a study in which they concluded that 40% of healthcare waste was from unnecessary care. Unnecessary care is primarily a result of a fear of being sued, aka malpractice. What is being done to address malpractice?'
"Well Pat, you heard today that medical malpractice is really important. And it's not just that we reform this so that we're not driving doctors out of states and out of communities, it's also because of the defensive medicine that doctors practice.
"You know it was brought up today a number of times, but we never really got into the numbers. The Congressional Budget Office says that we would save $54 billion over the next ten years in the government-run programs if we had medical malpractice reform. PricewaterhouseCoopers issued a report in 2006 that said that we would save up to $125 billion over the next ten years.
"And we've got other reports. One that came out was a Gallup study that was done just six weeks ago, and they interviewed doctors all across the country, and a majority of doctors claimed that 26 percent of the care they give is defensive medicine. We know that if we can eliminate all of this defensive medicine that's going on, we can dramatically lower the cost of health insurance around the country.
"Brian, a student, asks: 'Do you believe that healthcare is a right, or that health insurance is a right?'
"We all know that if you have a health emergency in America, you have a right to be treated. It's as clear as that. Health insurance - I'm not quite sure I'd call it a right - but we would clearly like to make health insurance affordable for more Americans. And the way to do that is to drive down costs in the current system.
"I believe freedom is a right, and any health care bill that takes away Americans' freedom is wrong. I think Americans should have the freedom to choose their own health care, and that the government shouldn't choose it for them.
"Finally, the number one question based on your votes comes from Chris at the University of Florida. Chris says: 'What is the explicit reasoning behind mandating the purchase of healthcare services?'
"Well, Chris, liberals believe mandating health care coverage will lower costs. I believe that mandating coverage like this for everyone is unconstitutional. And I think there are better things we can do to lower the cost of health care and make it more affordable for all Americans.
"Well, that's the last of the questions, but this conversation on health care is far from over. Visit GOPLeader.gov and reply to me via Twitter at GOPLeader. Thanks for watching."