Health care and immigration will be the two major issues in the Missouri House of Representatives during the 2008 session, according to Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho.
In his latest weekly report, Wilson gave an overall assessment of the two issues:
As we start the new session I know that two of the hot button items are going to be illegal aliens and health care. I have written extensively on both of these subjects over the last few months so I am pretty sure that you know where I stand on them but I feel that it is important to frame the discussion that will begin in earnest in the state capitol.
On illegal aliens, I have always been of the belief that the federal government should be taking the lead in addressing this issue and I think that you hear from the presidential candidates that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people. However, understanding the issue and taking action is two different things and Washington has been hopelessly deadlocked on getting anything done to solve this huge problem. That means it is up to the individual states to fill the void left by Washington.
As I have stated in previous columns, I have been working very closely with the Chairman of the House Special Committee on Immigration and he has a comprehensive plan for legislation addressing illegals in our state. But, don’t expect an easy road for any legislation addressing this problem. Even something as common sense as getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot making English the language of official proceedings in the state faced tremendous pressure from certain groups.
Given the diverse makeup of our state I can never guarantee anything being passed in the legislature. What I can promise is that I will do everything I can to make sure that this issue is addressed. I have heard your concerns and I share them and will fight to do the right thing.
With regards to health care – what can I say? This is once again a national issue with no easy answers but lots of questions and concerns. I do, however, want to clarify what the issue really is. When you hear national politicians talk about health care, they are really talking about health insurance. Everyone in the United States has access to health care. We have most likely the largest charity system of health care in the world. Now, is it always the most appropriate health care? No. Is it the most efficient and effective? No. But, everyone does have access to health care. The real issue is who pays for that health care and is it the best care for the situation.
We have a continuum, if you will, of who pays and who doesn’t. On one end you have people who foot the entire bill for their health care. Then you have folks who have insurance provided by their employers and will most likely have to pay for part of that insurance as well as deductibles and co-pays. Next you have individuals who are on taxpayer subsidized state-provided insurance and finally you have people who have no coverage at all and must rely on emergency room visits when their health concerns reach a crisis stage.
When you hear a politician talking about universal health care, what that means is the government would take over administering health care for everyone in the country. If you think that is a good thing then you should look at the Canadian system where income taxes are extremely high, folks still have co-pays and deductibles and often come to the U.S. because they can’t get into a Canadian doctor.
Is our system perfect? By no means! And everyone involved plays a role in the inefficiency – the hospitals, the doctors, the insurance companies and sometimes even the consumers. But, I do not want to see a government run program that will bring with it all the bureaucracy and inefficiencies as most other government programs. And, as I heard someone say – if you think health care is expensive, just wait until it is free. Remember that ultimately someone has to foot the bill and that is the American taxpayer.
So, what is the answer? I wish I had the answer. We have done many things over the last couple of sessions to address incremental changes in our systems to make health insurance more affordable and available but much more needs to be done. Again, I can’t promise a silver bullet but as Chairman of the House Special Committee on Health Insurance I will continue to work on legislation improving the system. I would welcome your suggestions so please do not be shy about letting my office know your thoughts and ideas on this. Maybe, by working together with all the different groups we can get a handle on this national crisis without creating yet another government program.