Camp Opening Statement: Hearing on Health Reform in the 21st Century

Reforming the Health Care Delivery System
April 1, 2009 — Opening Statements   


Thank you for yielding, Mr. Chairman.

It is hard to believe, but Dan Rostenkowski and Bill Archer were sitting in these chairs the last time Congress undertook comprehensive health care reform. 

As we know, back then Congress and the Administration were not even close to agreeing on a path forward.  Well, more than the people sitting in these chairs have changed in the last 16 years.

Today, there is a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. We added preventive procedures to Medicare, like cholesterol screening and an entry physical.  The creation of Health Savings Accounts has given over 7 million Americans a historic level of control over their own health care.  And, Medicare Advantage brought coordinated care, prevention and treatments not found in traditional Fee for Service Medicare to millions of American seniors.

Today, there is also broad agreement on the principles health care reform should encompass.  As I told the President during the White House Health Care summit, any successful health reform must lower costs, increase access, ensure portability, and focus on prevention and wellness, among other things. 

In this hearing, we have the opportunity to address many ways to lower costs and improve care by reforming the health care delivery system in this country.  It is an area where I think we will find broad agreement. 

The question, however, is not whether these reforms save money – they do – but rather, how do we best implement these reforms?  Is it through continued private sector innovation?  Or, is it through greater government involvement in health care decisions? 

The larger question the American people are asking is this: will Congress and the President get it right this time?  Will we focus on what we agree on – and what
will help improve the American health care system – or will we focus on what divides us?

Mr. Chairman, the witnesses before us today will tell us how they have taken it upon themselves to improve care and costs for their patients.  I want to commend them for developing innovative solutions to the difficult challenge of improving the delivery of health care.  

It is in this vein, Mr. Chairman, that I hope we too can work together to develop innovative solutions and produce real results for the American people.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.