Guthrie weighs in on health care

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By Special to The Sun

As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee, I have voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and participated in dozens of hearings that revealed astronomical costs, billion-dollar slush funds, and countless other negative consequences of the health care law.

Throughout our thorough examination of the law, one particular provision in PPACA came to light and is one of the starkest examples of the government encroaching on the personal lives of citizens.  Section 6301 of the bill creates the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a new government clearinghouse for comparative effectiveness research.
On its face, the institute’s stated goal of comparing different medical treatments and determining which are most effective is a laudable mission. However, when a medical issue arises, patients should work with their doctor to create a personalized treatment plan that is best for them and their specific case.
In order to stop this intrusion, I introduced H.R. 3827, which repeals PCORI, and maintains patients’ access to the appropriate care and treatments that they and their doctor chose.
The institute’s authority to make official determinations of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of treatments would likely be used to place limitations on more costly treatments or favor treatments with more broad success without consideration for what would be best for the individual patient.
These decisions could become a de facto treatment standard that could be used by insurance companies and others to restrict access to care. Many times, these large studies determine broad trends, but have less ability to thoroughly examine how individual patients will react to particular treatments.
Doctors, not unelected Washington bureaucrats, should decide the most appropriate care for patients.
My number one objection to the PPACA was that it did nothing to address the rising cost of health care. PCORI’s operations are financed by a tax on each individual’s health insurance plans. Beginning this year, health insurance plans will be charged $1 per person covered to fund the program. Next year, the tax rises to $2 per person, a cost which almost certainly will simply be passed along to the consumer.
At a time when American families are struggling, this tax will increase the cost of insurance for patients in order to fund research that may be used to unjustly deny them necessary and needed medical treatment in the name of efficiency and cost savings.
While we work on repealing damaging and costly provisions included in the health care law, we will also continue to debate meaningful solutions that reduce costs and makes quality health care more accessible for American families.