United States Senator Tom Coburn United States Senator Tom Coburn
United States Senator Tom Coburn United States Senator Tom Coburn
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November 6, 2007

Dr. Coburn Urges Politicians to Put Patients Ahead of Politics

In a letter to his Senate colleagues, Dr. Coburn urged senators to put patients' care above politics when it comes to funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and disease-specific legislation.

In the letter, Dr. Coburn wrote:

Congress has an important role in the war on disease. We must hold the agencies’ feet to the fire and ensure they are meeting their mission of reducing the morbidity and mortality rates for the diseases that kill Americans and others. The American people who struggle against disease, however, do not want Congress micromanaging scientific priorities and promise, including mandating exactly how much NIH or CDC spend on a particular disease, body part, or research project. They want us to hold the agencies accountable for misspending dollars or failing to meet their mission. Disease-specific earmarking politicizes science and undermines the medical expertise, experience, and judgment of the scientists at those agencies in which we are investing so much, and the patient and provider communities they work with and on whom they rely. It is precisely this principle that has resulted in the longstanding, bipartisan tradition that Congress not earmark or micromanage NIH funding.

Additionally, Dr. Coburn informed his colleagues he will not give his consent to unanimously pass any legislation which:

• Duplicates existing federal efforts;
• Does not contain accountability, transparency, and performance standards;
• Creates a new federal program that duplicates another program(s);
• Does not sunset at a date certain so Congress can evaluate its impact before determining whether or not it should be continued;
• Restricts the ability of CDC or NIH to ethically respond to new and emerging disease threats;
• Interferes with the scientific peer-review process;
• Includes a disease- or body-part-specific research mandate or disease-specific new program;
• Is not the “last resort” after a series of oversight hearings, letters, and investigations have demonstrated a gross failure or inability on the part of a federal agency.

June 15, 2007

Dr. Coburn's Prescription for a Healthy America

Health care reform - Key principles
Have you ever wondered why is it that in America, patients can not choose their own doctor?  Why, in the land of the free, do government bureaucrats, insurance companies and employers make your health care decisions instead of you?  Why do health insurance costs increase faster than your income?  Why are prescription drugs prices cheaper in every other country when the medical research is often funded with U.S tax dollars?  And why does the U.S. spend over $2 trillion annually on health care, more than any other nation, and 45 million Americans do not have access to health insurance?

The answer is simple.  Unlike every other aspect of American life, there is no free market in health care.  Well intentioned, but shortsighted laws passed decades ago removed patients from their own health care decisions.

While you can buy the car of your choice, watch the TV show you want, and comparison shop for every other product between manufacturers and sellers, you don’t have this same option about your own health care.

If you are unhappy with your health insurance policy, what are your options?  Most Americans do not select their own health plan.  As a result, you can not hire or fire your insurer.  You are trapped in a plan provided by your employer or the government or have no coverage at all.

A government run health care program would only compound the existing problem.  Washington, D.C., bureaucrats would have the ultimate decision over every health care decision.  Going to the doctor would resemble a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Shouldn’t shopping for health care, rather, resemble a visit to a department store where the custumer is the priority?  You are greeted with a smile, offered bargains, clerks offer assistance, you have the opportunity to compare products and prices, and if there is a long wait at check out, a new line might be opened because your business is appreciated and your time is valued.  Because one store must compete with others and the products they sell compete with similar merchandise, costs remain competitive and the customer can pick the best product for the amount of money they are willing or can afford to spend.  If you are dissatisfied with a product you purchased, you can return it for a full refund or exchange it for something that better meets your needs.

This is the health care system envisioned by the Universal Health Care Choice and Access Act (S. 1019).  Patients have the control to make their own decisions and can select from competing health care plans and providers.

The tax breaks that corporations and employers now receive when they provide health insurance to employees will be redirected to patients for them to use to buy their own health care insurance.  The control over government-run health care programs would now be entrusted to the patients covered by these programs rather than government bureaucrats.  Access to universal affordable health care for all Americans would be guaranteed.  Rather than patients appealing denials of care or waiting to see a health care provider, insurance companies and doctors would now compete for patients.

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