WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, the ranking Republican on the Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, delivered the following opening statement at today’s hearing on competition in the health care industry:
“Of all the complex issues the United States will deal with in this Congress, none will be more important than health care reform.
“If we get it right, we could devise a program that makes health care more accessible and affordable, provides health coverage to millions of Americans who are currently without health insurance, relieves Americans from worry about the effect changing jobs will have on their health care, saves lives through an increased focus on prevention and wellness, saves money by curbing the out-of-control growth in government health care programs, keeps patients and families in control of their health care choices, and makes doctors the decision makers on treatment options.
“We have a great opportunity before us to improve the American health care system, but we run a perilous risk if we do not act wisely and carefully.
“We can fix our broken health care system by making it more accessible and affordable for Americans, and we can do so without jeopardizing quality, individual choice, and personalized care.
“There is common ground to be found that would continue the opportunity for the United States to be the world leader in quality. Congress and the American people need to pay close attention as we proceed this summer and this fall on one of the most important debates of our time.
“Above all, we must remember that health care in America is not just an economic issue. It is a personal issue. Working together, we can fix our broken health care system by making it more accessible and affordable for every person in our country without jeopardizing quality, individual choice, or personalized care.
“The health care market place is extremely complex. Until I became an elected official, I did not realize how arcane and complex our system is. I hope our witnesses today will help us better understand the intricacies of the marketplace, where free-market principles and competition are working, and what steps need to be taken as we move forward to achieve a market-based approach on reform.”