While some political observers have dismissed this week’s planned House vote to repeal Obamacare as largely symbolic, physician-turned-congressman Tom Price tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that it is the “first step in a process” to rid the nation of President Obama’s unpopular intrusion into America’s healthcare.
“This vote to repeal the president’s health law is the first step in a process that will repeal his law and then an open, deliberative, bipartisan process to put in place patient-centered healthcare — which for us means patients and families, and doctors making medical decisions,” declared Price, the fifth-ranking Republican in the House.
The Georgia Representative, who practiced medicine for more than 20 years, said that the Supreme Court may have upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, but did not rule on its wisdom.
“Even though it may be constitutional, it’s not good policy. In fact it’s harmful policy for the nation,” he insisted. “So what we believe is important for the American people to know is that there are people here in Washington fighting as hard as we can on their behalf.”
Price, who also serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget committees, acknowledged that change is needed in the healthcare system.
“I can tell you that the status quo in healthcare is absolutely unacceptable,” he explained. “The problem that we have with the president’s law is that it not only is not helpful, it is harmful to the health of individual Americans and it’s also harmful to the health of our economy.”
A recent survey of 699 physicians in 45 states by the Doctor Patient Medical Association finds that nine out of 10 doctors think that the U.S. medical system is “on the wrong track,” and eight out of 10 say that current changes make them think about quitting. Only 5 percent say they are “re-energized” by the changes.
“The president has famously said over and over and over, ‘If you like what you have in terms of health coverage you can keep it’ but the American people now know that that statement is by and large absolutely false,” according to Price. “If you like what you have, it won’t be available for you to keep. People know this.”
From a physician’s perspective, the rules and regulations associated with Obamacare are mindboggling.
“The incredible hurtles that folks have to jump over just to comply with the law itself, makes it much more difficult to care for patients,” he said. “Whatever principle you think about, and talk about as it relates to healthcare — whether it’s accessibility or affordability, or choices, or quality — all of those things are harmed by this law, which is why, again, it needs to be repealed.”
Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon, and also served at the Emory University School of Medicine as an assistant professor and medical director of the Orthopedic Clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta before his election to Congress.
He believes that Congress should put in place patient-centered reforms that promote affordability, accessibility, quality and choice, but not government control.
He pointed to HR-3000, the Empower Patients First Act, as an example of a measure that would give “virtually every single American the ability and financial wherewithal, financial feasibility, to be able to purchase the coverage that they want for themselves,” while addressing the issues of portability and pre-existing conditions.
“That solves it in a way that doesn’t put Washington in charge and saves hundreds of billions of dollars through essentially ending the practice of defensive medicine through robust lawsuit abuse reform,” he said. “If you get folks covered, you can solve the insurance challenges and you can save hundreds of billions of dollars all without having Washington control the nation’s healthcare.”
Price, who chairs the House Republican Policy Committee, said that the president’s call for Congress to raise taxes on Americans making more than $250,000 a year and extending the Bush tax cuts for those making less, is yet another example of the Obama administration’s class-warfare strategy.
“This is really demonstrative of an administration that can’t find its way and whose policies aren’t working,” said Price. “It’s descended into the politics of division and not unifying the nation. To divide the country — to put one group against another and to harm those folks who are able to create jobs in this country, the small businesses, the vast majority of whom are taxed under the marginal rates, under the individual rates, and to boost their taxes at a time when the economy’s suffering — is foolhardy.”
Price blames President Obama’s policies for prolonging America’s economic downturn and he acknowledged that some House Democrats believe that the president’s no-tax threshold should be expanded to people earning $1 million or less.
“To punish small businesses, to punish job creators at this time, is destructive to a recovering economy that ought to be much more robust than it is and is only where it is because of the poor policies of this administration,” he added. “The most important thing is for the president to recognize that his proposal is harmful to the economy and to work with us as we try to fashion together a piece of tax legislation that provides greater certainty out there for individuals and for small businesses and for those job creators.”
Price said that House Republicans would welcome the president with “open arms” if he was interested in holding a positive discussion and debate on taxes.
“We call on the president to come to the table. Let’s talk about our proposals and let’s see where there is common ground that we can move forward on behalf of the American people — not being divisive and destructive as this president, this administration and his colleagues in Congress tend to be,” said Price.
“If he’s honest with himself, and recognizes that 41 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent — that four straight years of trillion-dollar-plus deficit on his watch, that that economy that’s the slowest recovery out of a recession since the Great Depression because of the policies he’s put in place — they ought to step back and say, ‘Well, maybe I ought to try something different.’”
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