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Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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HEALTH CARE WEEK VIII, DAY I

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the American people want health care reform--and they want us to take the time we need to get it right. As I have said repeatedly, and as an increasing number of Senators and Congressmen from both sides of the aisle are also now saying, the last thing Americans want is for Congress to rush through a flawed bill that would make our health care system even worse just so politicians in Washington can have something to brag about at a parade or a press conference.

The President and some Democrat leaders in Congress now acknowledge that getting health care reform right is more important than rushing through some slipshod plan no one has even looked at and calling it reform. Last week, the President said he wants to get health care reform right and that the most important thing is that Members of Congress continue to work together on the difficult issues in this debate. And one senior Democrat said last week that ``it's better to get a product that's based on quality and thoughtfulness than on trying to just get something through.''

Republicans agree, and so we are encouraged to hear our friends on the other side acknowledge that health care reform is too big, too important, and too personal an issue to rush.

In the coming weeks, Congress should work to achieve real reforms that actually address the problems in our health care system without tampering with the things that Americans--and many other people from around the world--like about our health care system and can no longer find in other countries.

The American people want health care that is more affordable and easier to obtain. What they don't want is a government takeover of health care that costs trillions of dollars, adds to our unsustainable national debt, forces them off the health insurance they have, leaves them paying more for worse care than they now receive, and leads to the same kind of denial, delay, and rationing of care we see in other countries.

One thing Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together on are practical ideas the American people support, such as reforming malpractice laws and getting rid of junk lawsuits; promoting wellness and prevention programs that encourage people to make healthy choices like quitting smoking and fighting obesity; encouraging more robust competition in the private insurance market; addressing the needs of small businesses through new ideas that won't kill jobs in the middle of a recession; and leveling the playing field when it comes to taxes. Right now, for example, if your employer offers health insurance, they get a tax benefit for providing it. If they don't, and you have to buy it yourself, you don't get the same benefit they do. In my view, this isn't fair, and we should change it to make it fair.

These are commonsense ideas that would enable Republicans and the increasingly vocal block of skeptical Democrats to meet in the middle on a reform that all of us want--and that all Americans could embrace.

The President has already acknowledged that both Democratic bills working their way through Congress are not where they need to be. In fact, by the President's own standard that any health care reform must not increase the national debt and must reduce long-term health care costs, he would not even be able to sign either of these bills we have seen so far.

According to the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, both bills would lead to an increase in overall health care costs. Just this weekend, the CBO said there is a high probability one of the administration's central proposals for reducing long-term costs would not lead to any savings in the near future and would generate only modest savings in the future.

Moreover, even if this proposal did generate any savings, they would likely be dwarfed by the new spending and deficits in the Democratic bills we have seen. It is like charging a new Cadillac to the family credit card and getting excited about saving a few dollars on the cup holder.

On top of that, the CBO says both bills would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt. Simply put, these bills are moving in the wrong direction and would make the problems in our health care system even worse than they are today.

So it is clear we need to hit the restart button and begin working on real reform that would address the problems in our health care system. Americans want the two parties to work together on something as important and as personal as health care reform. Embracing the ideas I have mentioned and finding responsible ways to pay for reform are a good place to start.

Mr. President, I yield the floor and thank again my colleague from Oklahoma.

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