As the debate continues on national health care, the U. S. House Energy and Commerce Committee convened to question expert witnesses – Governors from Mississippi, Massachusetts and Utah – on alternatives to Obamacare. The hearing took place on March 1st, the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the HR-3962, his Affordable Health Care for America Act.
The expert witness panel included Governor Haley Barbour, R- Mississippi, Governor Deval Patrick , D-Massachusetts, and Governor Gary Herbert, R- Utah. In near unanimous consent, they expressed their concern with complete federal control of health care in their states, agreeing that every state is increasing its debt due to requirements to participate in national health care.
Even more alarming than increasing states’ already massive debt, Governor Barbour stated that Medicaid is diving into education funds in his state because of federal restrictions on flexibility in financing. He said that if they don’t dip into the education budget to pay for health care, “We’ll have to have a big increase in taxes”. This reality was echoed by U. S. Representative Phil Gingrey, R-Georgia, who noted that teachers in 40 states have lost some sort of funding for health insurance because of budget cuts due to Obamacare.
Governor Herbert questioned President Obama’s decisions leading up the passage of HR-3962, the House bill that became what is commonly referred to as Obamacare. The governor claimed that Utah officials were not asked for advice on the act, even though they experimented with health care five years ago. He said President Obama must, “be more innovative and efficient to reduce costs and give states flexibility,” an approach that, he asserted, ultimately saved Utah $600 million per year since implementation.
Even Governor Patrick believes that America needs to move away from a universal health care system. He said, “We stopped limiting our thinking, and our imagination has worked.” He credited former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s health care plan for helping to provide health care coverage for 98 percent of the state’s population.
Governor Barbour praised Massachusetts and Governors Patrick and Romney for their success, but it was his matter-of-fact assessment that captured the essence of the witnesses’ argument. He said, “We don’t want Massachusetts’ health plan, because it doesn’t fit for Mississippi. Different States have different issues, and a health care system should be individual from state to state” in order to reduce federal and state deficits.
Governor Herbert echoed these comments by saying, “Each state should form their own options for health care because each state has their own unique strengths and weaknesses.”