e-News June 19, 2009

1. The Week Just Past
2. House Considers Defective Troop Funding Bill
3. Bad Idea of the Week: U.S. Equivocation on Iran
4. More Homeland Security Funds for New Jersey

The Week Just Past

The week, Senate Committees started their consideration of President Obama’s 615-page health care ‘reform’ bill. 

Republicans are anxious to work with President Obama and their Congressional colleagues on a plan to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.  Unfortunately, the bills that Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid are working on constitute a government takeover of health care that raises taxes, rations care, and drives health care costs even higher.   

Many in Washington were alarmed this week by the ‘partial’ cost estimate for the Senate ‘reform’ bill.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported Monday that the Senate health plan would carry a price-tag of at least $1 trillion and would cover an additional 16 million people by 2019, leaving 36 million uninsured.

Beyond the price-tag, there are important reasons to be concerned about the current proposals:

Government-Run Health Care.  Many in Congress — and President Obama — are insisting upon the inclusion of a so-called “public option” as part of health reform.  However, many experts believe that introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans (approximately 180 million people).  And if private insurers are pushed out of the market, the corresponding surge in ‘public plan’ participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.

More than $600 Billion in Reimbursement Cuts.  The President’s proposals last weekend for additional savings from the health care system now raise to nearly $625 billion the total amount of proposed cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  While some of these proposals could result from genuine efficiency improvements, others could harm senior’s access and care.  Many doctors already decline to treat seniors covered by Medicare.

Empowering Bureaucrats to Make Additional Reimbursement Cuts.  The President endorsed a proposal allowing a board of Washington bureaucrats to make “recommendations on cost reductions” over and above his proposed savings that would be binding unless Congress intervened.  Really?  Do we want bureaucrats making such decisions?

No Meaningful Liability Reform.  No Democrat proposals being discussed have attempted to undertake the type of meaningful liability reforms that would drive down malpractice insurance costs—and reduce defensive medical practices that result in as much as $120 billion annually in wasteful spending.

Harms Medical Innovation.  Multiple proposals by the Congressional Majority have discussed expanding various price controls on pharmaceuticals—a one-time savings that would do nothing to slow the long-term growth in health costs, while permanently harming the research and development on breakthrough treatments and devices that can cure or improve treatment of countless diseases and disabilities.

Medicaid’s Low Payments and Bureaucracy.  The Majority proposes significant expansions of Medicaid, which pays physicians 40 percent below private insurance plans and in most states suffers from reimbursement delays and other bureaucratic hassles.  These expansions may drive individuals away from private coverage and into a government-run plan that reimburses at significantly lower rates.

A Drag on Hospitals.  Reimbursement to hospitals could be cut by over $220 billion to “pay for” overhauling our health care system, affecting Morristown Memorial, Chilton Memorial, St. Clare’s Health System, Somerset Medical Center, and St. Barnabas Health Care System.  In the past two years, nine acute care hospitals have closed their doors, and six have filed for bankruptcy in New Jersey.  The last thing we need to do is deny hospitals the funding they need to continue to provide invaluable health services to the community. 

Tax Increases.  To pay for the entire program, the Obama plans proposes to compliment $625 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid with tax increases totaling around $400 billion. The suggested tax increases will raise taxes for many New Jersey households and could limit itemized deductions for single filers with incomes over $200,000, and families with incomes over $250,000.

“Americans want and deserve health care reform.  We must be able to find a way that improves affordability, accessibility and availability of quality health care by building on the strengths of our private sector business, not by turning it over to the government to run. I stand ready and willing to work with the President and all my colleagues in Congress to craft a solution that achieves those goals.

"And, I’d like to hear from you!  Please send your thoughts and ideas to me at 30 Schuyler Place, Morristown, NJ 07860 or email me through my website at:”

Recommended Reading: The ‘Public Plan’ would be the ‘Only Plan’  Professor Scott Harrison of the Wharton School of Economics in Monday’s Wall Street Journal:

House Considers Defective Troop Funding Bill

Statement of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday, June 16:

“Madame Speaker:

“I rise in opposition to the conference report on H.R. 2346, providing supplemental appropriations for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Madame Speaker, if the ‘defense’ portion of this supplemental were considered as stand-alone legislation, it would receive my support and that of the vast majority of my colleagues.  

“We recognize that we need to provide to our deployed men and women - all volunteers - the funding and the resources they need to accomplish their important ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
“But unfortunately, the Majority has added items to this measure totally unrelated to these wars. 

“First, there is the provision to provide an additional $5 billion to the IMF – thus opening up a $108 billion line of credit for nations around the world.  With the addition of these funds, the Majority will spend more money on a bail-out for foreign countries than on our own troops!

“Second, the Majority stripped language from this bill that would have prevented the release of photographs of detainees, thus endangering the U.S. and members of our Armed Forces overseas.  

“Third, the Majority inserted watered-down language on the closing of Guantanamo Bay, allowing for terrorist detainees to be brought into the U.S. for trial 45 days after the Obama Administration submits certain paperwork to Congress. 

“These all represent reasons to vote ‘no’ and to send this legislation back to the drawing board in order to bring back a ‘clean’ straightforward bill that supports our troops.

“But my Colleagues, I want to use this time to offer a word of caution on the direction of our national security funding.

“If you believe the Obama Administration, this will be the last supplemental appropriation bill to fund our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though our forces will remain in Iraq in significant numbers for years and our efforts in Afghanistan are just now ramping up.   

“The Administration says it is putting such costs for future solider needs into the base appropriations bill. 

“However, it does not take a ‘green-eye-shade’ to determine that the Administration’s request - combined with the rate of inflation - essentially adds up to no real growth.    We are standing still. 

“Yet, today, we see a world where:

• North Korea is threatening conventional and nuclear war;
• Russia is becoming resurgent and aggressive;
• China is rapidly expanding its naval forces and its space ambitions;
• Iran may be becoming less stable by the day; and
• a worldwide jihad against the West continues.

“This ‘treading water’ approach to national security could prove very short-sighted and very dangerous.

“My Colleagues, our first responsibility as Members is to protect our constituents, our homeland and our interests.  
“It is clear that in the months ahead, we have a great deal of work to do.

“I urge opposition to this Conference Report and yield back the balance of my time.”

Bad Idea of the Week: U.S. Equivocation on Iran

Since last week’s extremely suspicious Presidential election in Iran, millions of Iranian citizens have taken to the streets in defiance of that country’s theocratic dictatorship.  Yet, the Obama Administration has reacted by displaying troubling timidity by refusing to offer even rhetorical support for the protestors and then even offered to continue a “dialogue” with the clerics who run the Iranian regime.  For its part, the regime has responded by beating protestors, shooting demonstrators, expelling journalists, restricting access to the internet, arresting activists and, today, threatening to escalate the crackdown if the Iranian people do not fall back into line.  

And still our President and Secretary of State say they are afraid of “meddling” in the affairs of Iran, a nation that is the largest state supporter of terrorism on earth; a nation that has supplied men and materiel that have killed and maimed American troops in Iraq; a nation that continues to develop a nuclear weapons capability in defiance of U.N. and other international standards.

More Homeland Security Funds for New Jersey

Rep. Frelinghuysen this week welcomed news that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will provide $35.3 million to support the critical security needs of New Jersey’s high threat, high risk areas.  New Jersey will also receive a State Homeland Security Grant of $25.55 million.

In 2003, Frelinghuysen secured language in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to ensure that, along with New York City, New Jersey would be eligible to receive its fair share of security funds for “discretionary grants for use in high density urban areas, in high threat areas.”

Thanks to Frelinghuysen’s work, the $60.85 million awarded this week will enhance the overall security and preparedness levels in New Jersey. 

“I pleased that DHS continues to recognize that the security needs of New Jersey and New York City are inextricably intertwined,” said Frelinghuysen.  “DHS has heard our call for greater security in New Jersey’s high risk areas,” Frelinghuysen said. 

This funding was included in the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act.  The funding came from the Homeland Security Grant Program Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), which provides funds to high threat, high density urban areas across the nation, and the State Homeland Security Grant program, which supports the statewide implementation of strategies to prevent and protect against terrorism.