(Read the text of the RNC's weekly radio and Web address delivered by Sen. Orrin Hatch after the jump)
Text of the Republican National Committee's weekly radio and Web address delivered by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch:
“Hello. I am Orrin Hatch, from the great state of Utah. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with all of you today to talk about the very important challenge of health care reform.
“Ensuring access to affordable and quality health care for every American is not a Republican or Democrat issue – it is an American issue. Our nation expects us to solve this challenge in an open, honest and responsible manner. More spending, more taxes and more government is not the answer.
“After the rushed stimulus bill, Americans are rightly concerned about what is being pushed through the Democratic Congress. The rush to pass something that will affect every American life and one-sixth of our economy has raised concerns all around our nation.
“So, why are Americans so skeptical of and concerned with the approach of the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress? A big reason for this concern is that nearly 85 percent of Americans have coverage and they are really worried about what reform means for them. Especially our seniors. And these concerns are moving from kitchen table conversations to town hall discussions.
“I am disappointed about the attempts to characterize the behavior of Americans expressing their concerns as ‘un-American'.’ Although I strongly encourage the use of respectful debate in these town halls, we should not be stifling these discussions. There is nothing ‘un-American’ about disagreements. In fact, our great nation was founded on speaking our minds.
“Families are voicing their concerns because they feel like they are not being heard in Washington and I am here to tell you that your voices are coming through and it is essential for all of you to be involved in this issue.
“Republicans in Congress agree with the majority of Americans who believe that just throwing more taxpayer dollars at a problem will not deliver meaningful reform. Telling the American public that the solution for solving a $2.5 trillion health care system is to simply spend another trillion dollars in our current economy, just does not make sense. Especially at a time when spending and debt are multiplying with such alarming speed, like an almost $2 trillion national deficit this year alone, $200 billion in state deficits, a Medicare program on the edge of bankruptcy and a national debt that will triple within the next decade.
“There are several areas of consensus that can form the basis for a sustainable, fiscally responsible and bipartisan reform. These include:
1. Reforming the health insurance market for every American by making sure that no American is denied coverage simply based on a pre-existing condition
2. Protecting the coverage for almost 85 percent of Americans who already have coverage – coverage they like – by making it more affordable. This means reducing costs by rewarding quality and coordinated care, giving families more information on the cost and choices of their coverage and treatment options, discouraging junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals and promoting prevention and wellness measures like quitting smoking and living a healthier lifestyle.
3. Giving states flexibility to design their own unique approaches to reduce uninsured
4. Empowering small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs – the job-creating engines and lifeblood of our economy – to buy affordable coverage for their employees
“Unfortunately, the path we are taking in Washington right now is to simply spend another trillion dollars of taxpayer money to further expand the role of the federal government. The reform proposals being pushed by the Democrats include massive expansions of the Medicaid program and the creation of a new Washington-run plan that will drive millions of Americans from private coverage of their choice into government-run plans. As the federal government’s control of our health care system continues to increase, private coverage will continue to decrease, till we are left with a Washington-run and dictated health care system.
“Medicare offers an important lesson. With $38 trillion in future costs, it is facing bankruptcy within the next decade, threatening access to care for millions of Americans. So what is the Democratic approach to fix Medicare for our seniors? Hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts which will be used to expand a financially-strapped Medicaid program and create another government-run plan.
“To enact true health care reform, we should work together to write a responsible, bipartisan bill for the American families who are faced with rising unemployment and out of control health care costs.
“We have a real need for reform and an opportunity on behalf of the American people to get it done. If we are responsible in our policy approaches and strive for true bipartisanship, we can achieve meaningful reform.”
Related: Health care in America