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Congressman Paul Ryan’s Speech To Medical Bloggers At The National Press Club

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)

*** Congressman Paul Ryan addressed the crowd at Better Health’s “Healthcare Reform: Putting Patients First” event. This is a transcript of his speech: ***

This event is a landmark in how we get discussion and debate going in the 21st century.  We are communicating with the grass roots, with medical bloggers here in this room and across the country.

Let me tell you this: I don’t want government interfering in the relationship between doctors and patients…and I don’t want insurance companies interfering either!  I want a vibrant health care market that lets patients choose the health care options that are right for them and their loved ones.  I want a free market democracy that puts patients first.  We can have this, and I’ll say something more about that in a minute.

Right now Congress is rushing through a health care overhaul that goes in the opposite direction.  It’s important to analyze the relative financial costs and benefits of these proposals, but our greater challenge is not the dollars and cents.  It goes to the issue of continuing the tradition of excellent health care that medical practitioners now provide.  It’s about the equal dignity of each human person…and the future of America as a free society.  The American character, and the principles of freedom & democracy which protect & preserve it, may be lost beyond recovery if Congress chooses the wrong path on health care reform—the path down which I believe the Obama Administration seems determined to lead our country.

Public health has always been a government priority.  Our Constitution’s Framers saw every individual as having a “right of personal security” which includes being protected against acts that may harm personal health.  This right is part of the natural right to life, and it is government’s very purpose to secure our natural rights to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness.

Now here is where believers in big government make their big mistake.  The right of each person to protection of health does not imply that government must provide health care.  The right to have food in order to live doesn’t require government to own the farms and raise the crops.  Government’s obligation is normally met by establishing the conditions for free markets to thrive.  Societies with economic freedom almost always have a growing abundance of goods and services at affordable costs for the largest number.  When free markets seem to be failing to meet this test – and I’d argue today’s health care delivery is an example – government should not supply the need itself.  It should correct its own interventions and liberate choice and competition.

We know from survey after survey that a vast majority of Americans are personally satisfied with the quality of their own health care.  The problem is really with health care delivery, which is growing too costly and leaving many people without coverage.  The proponents of government-run health care claim there are only two alternatives: either enact their plan or do nothing.  This is false. Government bureaucracy is not the answer to insurance company bureaucracy.

An authentic solution to the problem of affordability should be guided by the principles of moral and political freedom… respect doctor and patient privacy…restrain spending…and channel the energy of our free market system, not dry it up.   There is no lack of sensible alternative solutions proposed by Republicans to put patients first. Senators Coburn and Burr, and Congressman Nunes and I have offered one, called “The Patients’ Choice Act.”  It’s an example of how to eliminate government-driven market distortions that exclude many from affordable health care delivery.  More uninsured Americans can be covered by spending current dollars more wisely and efficiently than by throwing trillions more at the problem.  Our health care delivery alternatives are based on timeless American moral and political truths.

In essence, we believe that the dollars and decisions should flow through the individual patient, not from the government.  I want to see a market where providers truly compete against each other for our business as consumers and patients – not a bureaucratized system where health care providers vie for government favor as patients wait in line. Read more »

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