July 10, 2007

Wyden Responds to President Bush's Remarks on Health Care

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden issued the following statement today in response to President Bush's remarks discussing the need to fix the way the tax code treats health care. Wyden is the author of the Healthy Americans Act, the first bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform proposal in almost 15 years. At the core of the Healthy Americans Act, which is cosponsored by Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) is a restructuring of the tax system that ends the current regressive treatment of health insurance, while providing revenue to help cover all Americans.

"President Bush is right when he says that we need to change the way the tax code treats health care - Democrats and Republicans can agree that the current health care tax rules unfairly benefit the wealthy and subsidize inefficiency. But the President is wrong when he suggests that changing the tax code alone will fix the nation's health care crisis. Changing the tax code won't ensure that every American has health insurance, because it won't prevent insurance companies from discriminating against those Americans who most need health care. The only way to fix the nation's ailing health care system is to cover everyone - otherwise those without coverage will continue to shift costs to those who do.

"Tax changes can and should be part of a broader health reform effort, but we shouldn't have kids go without health care today while we work toward the goal of covering everyone. Failing to ensure that every child has access to health care is a moral blot that Congress must take immediate steps to correct.

"So let's first pass a bipartisan reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program that meets the needs of the nation's children and then turn to another bipartisan effort, one to fix the nation's broken health care system and provide every American with quality, affordable health insurance coverage. I invite the President to join us in both efforts."