Opinion: 159 New Government Agencies Won't Improve Health Care
These Americans are not opposed to reform. They understand that our health insurance markets are not perfect, but they maintain that there is no justice in sacrificing the quality of health care that has made this nation's practice of medicine the envy of the world.
Quality remains one of the six principles of patient-centered health care that Republicans have advocated. Yet, all Americans find in the Democrats' government-centered vision are various boards of bureaucrats -- not practicing physicians -- determining what is considered quality care.
Individuals should have the freedom to make choices in regard to their personal health care decisions. And, an individual patient is far better served when health care decisions are informed by the advice of their doctor, not the dictates of Washington. So when one reads the details of the legislation pending before Congress and finds the creation of 159 new government offices and programs, there is little else to feel but fear and concern for what will happen to the level of quality care in this country.
Just this past November, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women scale back the frequency of mammogram cancer-screenings -- a decision widely panned by physicians and patients. When a board like the USPSTF is given authority to dictate what health coverage is available to all Americans, individuals will find themselves unable to obtain certain screenings and tests that their physician recommends.
In the legislation now before Congress, there is the Orwellian-sounding Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. This unelected, bureaucrat-appointed board would conduct "comparative effective research" -- a process that will lead to rationed care and impose one-size-fits-all coverage mandates.
Republicans are championing reform with no new bureaucratic boards making medical decisions, no $500 billion cuts to Medicare, no new mandates, and no one standing between you and your doctor. We can fix what ails our current system without destroying it if we abide by the principle that quality in health care must not be sacrificed.
It is no secret that those who travel to receive medical care in the United States do so because, in many instances, our shores are home to the only medical experts capable of providing certain new and innovative treatments. This hasn't happened by mistake. If we let Washington be the purveyor of health care choices, we will have lost not just quality care now, but for future generations who would otherwise benefit from a flexible, patient-driven system that responds to individual needs.
Though there is no monopoly on compassion, it is troubling that in this debate over health reform, the focus has dramatically shifted away from what is positive and proper to simply what can be achieved through political might. In the rush to pass something, the majority in Congress has lost sight of what must be preserved at all cost -- the quality of health care enjoyed by millions of Americans and sought by millions more. It must be our goal to expand access to this level of quality and not diminish that pursuit in order to serve the demands of Washington.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., is a physician and chairman of the Republican Study Committee.