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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Well, I thank the gentleman for yielding. Dr. Roe is exactly right. He was a physician practicing medicine or trying to practice medicine under the impact of TennCare. I was a legislator trying to figure out how to pay for this as a member of the Tennessee State Senate.

Mr. AKIN. Wait a minute. The Democrats just said this is going to be really cheap. It's not going to be hard to pay for.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. That's one of the interesting things. You know, Tennessee's TennCare program was put in place in 1994 as the test case for public option, government-funded, government-delivered health care. The interesting thing now is the White House doesn't want to talk about it because it is an experiment that was not successful. It failed. Even our Democrat Governor has said it has been a disaster.

Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, the Governor of the State said it was a disaster in Tennessee?

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Yes. And one of the things we need to realize is this. TennCare was put in place as an executive order program of the Office of the Governor. It was an 1115 waiver from CMS. The Statehouse and the State Senate got the bill of paying for it.

What happened after about 5 years of this program being in place, and you had consent decrees and court orders, you had companies that were dropping insurance, 55 percent of the enrollees on the program were people that were not supposed to be there. They had previously had insurance.

And you had a program that was ensuring or covering--gold-plated program covering 25 percent of the State's residents. Then the cost starts to balloon. You see cost shifting taking place onto those who have private insurance. You see restricted access by doctors and hospitals because they're not being paid by the program, because there's not enough money to go around, and the cost of the program goes to the point that they are actually absorbing every single new revenue dollar that is coming into the State of Tennessee, and ends up being 36 percent of the State's budget.

Mr. SHADEGG. Would the gentlelady yield?

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I'll gladly yield.

Mr. SHADEGG. I just want to make sure I understand this. So, our Democrats colleagues say the big issue here is cost. Costs are going up too fast. The President said it's unsustainable.

In Tennessee they put in a government-run plan, got the government involved, substituted the private market, and costs did not go down?

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Costs skyrocketed. And we saw the costs go up every single year. As Dr. Roe can tell you, having been a physician trying to handle this issue, every single year the costs went up on the public option, the access was restricted, the quality of care was diminished, and those with private insurance saw their rates go up 10 percent, 15 percent.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank you. What we see in this stack of the bill, the 1,100 pages that are there in that bill, 1,683 times it gives you the directive of you ``shall do,'' individuals ``shall do'' this. Now let me explain what this means. When you are a mother, many times you will tell your children, well, you can go out and play if you want to or you can do this if you want to. But when you really want to make a point, you say, ``you are going to go to time out'' or ``you are going to go to this corner'' or ``you are going to do your homework, no question, no options.''

In legislative parlance, that is what ``shall'' means. You have to do this.

Now, 47 times it uses the word ``must.'' You must do this and that. And 495 times it uses the word ``require.'' All of these are new mandates on the American people.

To make it worse, 172 times it talks about taxes, taxpayer, taxable activity, 172 times, and 99 times it uses ``penalties.''

The Democrats have become the party of punishment, and they are going to punish Americans severely in this health care bill.

And to the gentleman from Georgia, I loved the fact that he talked about the taxes. That portion that he so beautifully articulated, would create $300 billion in new revenue for the government, which means taxes out of your pocket that you're taking out of your pocket and handing to the tax man; $300 billion. Even the prices----

Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, I just heard promise this thing doesn't cost that much, and yet the Congressional Budget Office, the original version was 3.5 trillion, and they've whittled it down to only 1.5 trillion is what we understand. And you're only talking $300 billion. And we did that huge, the biggest tax increase in the history of our country on energy taxes which is going to hurt our productivity, and that's only not even 800 billion. We're not there yet.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. You're exactly right. And what the gentleman has is one small portion of that bill.

And also, I would add, before I yield back, that his own economic advisor from--the President's economic advisor estimates that that amount of taxes and this legislation would cost us 4.7 million new jobs.

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