Mark Warner | The cost of reform

As our health-care debate continues, I’m reminded that Virginians hired me last fall to help change the way things are done in Washington and to make sure the federal government is more responsible with taxpayer dollars, even in times of crisis.
Reforming our health-care system is essential to ensuring a prosperous future and it cannot wait. But I am concerned that far too little attention is being paid to containing the cost of any potential reform plan.

The status quo is not sustainable. But we cannot spend away our future to achieve the health reform we need.

That’s why I joined eight fellow freshman senators last week in a letter to Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee. In our letter, we commend the chairman’s efforts to achieve bipartisan support for health care reform legislation.

But we also make a critical request: We must renew our focus on containing costs – before it’s too late.

As recently-elected members of the Senate, we all know first-hand that Americans desire health care reform.

We also know that the United States can’t afford the consequences of inaction. We’re already spending 17 percent of our GDP on health care – more than any other industrialized country – and that number will only go up if Congress does not act.

Our business community can’t afford the status quo, either. They are already at a serious disadvantage as they compete with firms around the globe because our businesses spend so much more than foreign competitors on skyrocketing health care costs.

And our government cannot afford to miss this window of opportunity because growth in healthcare costs threatens to bankrupt the government. We absolutely must get a handle on this challenge.

I’m working with my colleagues to make sure this discussion remains focused on cost reduction as well as expanded coverage. Our letter is just a small part of our continuing effort to bring a sustainable, sensible approach to health reform.


Mark Warner represents Virginia in the United States Senate.

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