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National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010--Continued

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010--Continued -- (Senate - July 22, 2009)

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HEALTH CARE REFORM

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I will return to the issue of health care in America, the reform of our health care system, and how we help Americans find the health insurance that is affordable to every family.

It is important, as we talk about this, that we get the facts out on the table. I am glad to see this has become an issue that is front and center. I know the President called for a press conference tonight to talk about his vision of health care. I want to set the record straight on a number of things that have been said that I think are politically motivated and, obviously, don't represent the truth.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle, including the President, have talked about Republicans representing the status quo on behalf of big special interests, and they have accused us of representing the big insurance companies, when, in fact, the voting record in the Senate has proved the exact opposite.

When the President was in the Senate, and when we, as Republicans, proposed health care reform--which we did many times while the President was a Senator--the President and my Democratic colleagues voted with the big insurance companies. We had one proposal that would allow small businesses to come together to buy health insurance for their employees at a lower price. The big insurance companies opposed that, but the Democrats voted with the big insurance companies and against the reform proposals.

I put forth a proposal that would have allowed individuals in this country to shop for their health insurance in any State in the country, just like other products and services, to have a competitive national market, which so many on the other side have called for. The big insurance companies that have State-by-State monopolies opposed that bill. Senator Barack Obama and the Democrats voted with the big insurance companies and against Americans' ability to buy health insurance anywhere in the country.

Republicans are not standing with special interests. Look at the proposals that have been put on the table in the House and Senate by the Democrats, which the President will be advocating when he speaks tonight. Let's see what party is representing special interests.

First of all, the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood, and other organizations that make their money performing abortions--their interests are clearly represented in this bill. This proposal the President is advocating would require that health insurance plans cover elective abortions in this country, which means taxpayers who are morally opposed to abortion will be forced to subsidize insurance plans that pay for abortion.

I ask my colleagues, who is representing special interests? Who is representing the abortion industry in this debate?

What about who loses their health care coverage in these new plans that have been proposed? The independent Lewin Group has looked at these proposed plans by my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, and they concluded that 80 million Americans who have health insurance that they now like will lose it under this current proposal.

But who is protected? Who would not lose their health insurance? It is union members who are protected. Do we think that has anything to do with politics--that the average American will lose their health insurance but the unions that support the Democratic Party are protected? Who is standing up for special interests in this health care debate?

Let's talk about the plaintiffs' attorneys. One of the biggest problems in health care today is what doctors call defensive medicine--running all kinds of unnecessary tests so they avoid all these expensive lawsuits. We have talked for years about reforming the health care system to eliminate these wasteful, frivolous lawsuits that cost so much money, and every doctor and hospital has to have huge liability policies for the cost of the lawsuits that come every year. You would think a health care reform proposal would have some lawsuit abuse reform in it. But who is protected? What special interests are protected in this health care proposal?

The plaintiffs' attorneys. There is absolutely no tort reform, no reform of abusive lawsuits in this plan.

So I ask my colleagues: Who is representing the special interests here--the big insurance companies, the abortion industry, the unions, the plaintiff's attorney? All of those are represented and protected in this so-called health reform legislation that does nothing to help individuals access affordable personal policies for themselves.

When the President was in the Senate, I personally every year proposed major health care reform. I proposed that individuals who do not get their insurance at work at least get to deduct the cost of that insurance from their taxes, as we let businesses do. Barack Obama voted against that, and so did my Democratic colleagues.

I proposed that individuals be allowed to buy health insurance anywhere in the country so that it would be more affordable, more competitive. Barack Obama voted against that, and so did my Democratic colleagues.

Republicans proposed small businesses come together and buy health care less expensively so they could provide more health insurance to their employees. Barack Obama voted against that, and so did my Democratic colleagues.

I ask you: Which party is standing for the status quo of trying to keep things the same? Real health care reform has been proposed in the Senate many times by Republicans. But the truth is, the Democrats do not want individual Americans to have access to affordable health insurance. What they want is a government takeover of health care. The President has made that clear by his own voting record.

As he holds his press conference tonight, I am sure the crowd will be loaded with friendly reporters, but there are a few questions I would like him to answer.

If the major provisions in this health care bill he is promoting do not take effect until 2013, which they don't, why this mad rush to pass a bill that is over 1,000 pages that no one in this body has read? Why the mad rush to pass it before we go home for the August break?

I can answer it for him. Because if Americans find out what is in it, they are not going to support it.

I have a second question: You said your health care bill will cut costs and not increase the deficit. But the independent analysis of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office contradicts those claims, saying it will raise costs and increase the deficit by $240 billion. The policy does not support the promise.

A third question: The President has repeatedly said that the health care bill will allow Americans who like their current plans to keep them. But as I said, an independent expert group, the Lewin Group, has analyzed this legislation and concluded that it will force over 80 million Americans to lose the health insurance they have today.

Question No. 4: The President said the other day when he was speaking at Children's Hospital that opponents of the plan are content to perpetuate the status quo. How does that compare with your record, Mr. President, when you were in the Senate? What health reform did you propose? Why did you vote against every health reform proposal that could have increased access to affordable health insurance for all Americans?

And just a yes-or-no question: Will you guarantee that pro-life Americans under your plan will not be forced to subsidize elective abortions?

I hope the President will answer some of these questions for the American people because I am convinced that if Americans know the truth about this legislation, they will conclude this is not about getting them affordable health insurance or access to quality health care. This is a continuation of this power grab that is going on in Washington.

This spending spree, this proposal for more and more taxes, is a power grab for the government to take over yet another industry, the health care industry in America. Health care is the most personal and private service we have for ourselves and our families. Why would we want to turn that over to government to make the decisions for us?

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator has used 10 minutes.

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I thank you for your indulgence. I encourage my colleagues to read any bill we vote on before the August break.

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