Congressman Ralph M. Hall
Congressman Ralph M. Hall

“Last evening during his speech to a joint session of Congress and to the Nation, the President made it clear that healthcare reform is his top priority – and he made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to achieve reform, with or without bipartisan support.  I am less encouraged today that there will be any genuine effort to forge a bipartisan bill that all Americans can support. 

“The President referenced some key reform measures that both parties support – but these were footnotes to a massive, complex new government plan that raises more questions and concerns than it provides answers or assurances.  If he had wanted to respond to the concerns and outcries from citizens all across America during these past weeks, the President could have come to Congress with some immediate reform proposals that have the support of both political parties and the American people. 

“These reforms include legislation that would bar insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and from canceling coverage due to serious illness and medical cost.  He could have called for allowing small businesses to pool together to offer affordable insurance for their employers across State lines – giving them the same leverage that is available to larger companies and government.

“Instead, the President called for a massive and radical overhaul of healthcare, the consequences and costs of which have yet to be determined.  I have crunched the numbers, and they just don’t add up. 

“The President mentioned the use of scare tactics to halt forward movement on healthcare reform. These are not tactics dreamed up by opponents – these are legitimate concerns by my constituents in the Fourth District and by Americans all across the country who are scared about potential government control of healthcare, scared about the cost, and scared about the predicted loss of jobs from small businesses that could close due to higher taxes, among other fears.  

“The President even went so far as to say that those who oppose his plan would be ‘called out.’  It’s my observation that he should be fully aware of the term, because the American people have been calling him out throughout the month of August.  This is not the time for threats.  It’s the time to forget your Democratic or Republican partisanship and to remember what we owe the people of this country – and that is a decent and workable health program.

“I am willing to work with the President and other Members from across the aisle to come up with a bipartisan solution that all Americans can support – but if our proposals are rejected outright, or we are barred from negotiations, there’s no opportunity to work together.”

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