When it comes to discussing the current health debate in this country, there are a lot of complex terms and ideas that are thrown about. But ultimately — as Heritage’s Robert Moffit and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan explained to hundreds of Americans on a conference call this week to launch www.fixhealthcarepolicy.com — these issues boil down to a few simple questions:

  • Who is going to control the flow of dollars in the health care system?
  • Who is going to make decisions about where those dollars go?
  • Who is going to make the key decisions about what kind of health care benefits package you have? What kind of plan you use?

“The question here is not just one of economics, but of values. Who is going to make the decisions about a sector of the economy that has so much direct, personal impact on the quality of your life,” Moffit asked callers.

Some in Congress have introduced legislation to centralize the decision-making power in Washington through policies such as a health insurance plan administered by the federal government, or mandates that employers provide health insurance to employees or pay a tax.

Ryan, who introduced the Patients’ Choice Act as an alternative to expanding government intervention in the health care system, said those efforts will push an estimated 119.1 million Americans  off of their private coverage and onto a public health plan. “The ultimate problem with a government-run plan option crowding out private options is that the government must therefore be in the position of deciding how costs are contained, and that means inevitably that the government must ration care,” he said during the teleconference.

Callers on the townhall-style talk expressed their frustration and concern that Congress’ rapid schedule to pass through comprehensive health reform allowed little time for them to digest all of the details. Ryan said he’s concerned health care providers aren’t aware of how much their business will be affected by the reform measures Congress is proposing.

“I’m very fearful that who’s going to want to practice medicine in a world in which you’re effectively a federal employee? In a world in which it’s Medicare-for-everybody — and the problem for Medicare-for-everybody with respect to providers is they don’t even get paid in many instances what they cost, and care must be rationed,” Ryan said.

Despite the pressure to push legislation through, Ryan said health reform legislation tailored by the Obama administration is not inevitable. “I don’t think it’s inevitable that Congress steamrolls through legislation taking over the health care sector, and the reason I say that is we thought cap and trade was inevitable. And I think we’re probably going to defeat that legislation,” he added.