State Politics

Buchanan: Health care plan has ‘gigantic’ issues

BRADENTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan complained Friday that health insurance for the average family is too expensive, but said the Democratic reform proposal is flawed because it would not adequately control costs.

The measure now under consideration in Washington, D.C., estimated at a cost of $1 trillion over 10 years, lacks mechanisms to truly bring prices down to an affordable level for the typical family, said the Sarasota Republican.

“What we’ve got to do from Day One, I’ve felt, you’ve got to get the cost down,” Buchanan said at the luncheon.

Buchanan, who sounded a bipartisan note by saying, “I told the President (Obama), we need health care reform,” said that health insurance costs $10,000-15,000 or so annually for an average family, and he’d like to see that figure cut in half or more.

“This bill doesn’t deal with cost, that’s the problem,” Buchanan said. “If we don’t deal with it, they’re saying, within the next 10 years, it would be $28,000 per family — that’s a gigantic issue,” Buchanan said at a Manatee Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

He referred to Democratic efforts to provide coverage for 30 million to 50 million uninsured, saying, “Everybody should have access to available and affordable health care, but there’s no such thing as free.”

Raising taxes to pay for reform would burden small businesses, the source of most of the nation’s jobs, he said.

Buchanan advocated tort reform — which involves limits on when injured people may sue, limits on how much money juries may award to injured people, or both — saying the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated savings as a result at $55 billion.

He also suggested more competition in terms of selling insurance across state lines, and use of professional associations to pool resources, such as those of Realtors or builders.

“It shouldn’t be about Democrat or Republican, it should be doing what’s right for America and Americans, and that’s what I try to fight for up there everyday,” he said.

Discussing economic development at Port Manatee, Buchanan also said he had invited Panamanian President Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal to visit Manatee County, accompanied by Panama’s Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. The visit would emphasize business ties between Port Manatee and the Panama Canal.