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Public Statements

Health Care Week XV, Day III

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, after months of hearing that Americans don't want government-run health care, Democratic leaders in Washington have made their decision: They are going to include it in their health care bill whether Americans want it or not.

Supporters of the government-run plan say they are only advocating one more option among many. What they don't say is that the option they are advocating would soon be the only option. The others would simply fade away.

It is not that hard to understand. Private health plans would fade away because a government-run plan would use the deep pockets of the Federal Government to set artificially low prices or absorb a loss, making it impossible for private plans to compete. Private plans would either become so expensive that only the very wealthy could afford them or they would go out of business altogether.

If you want to know what happens after that, just ask somebody who lives in a country that has already gone down the road of government-run health care for all. What we have seen in those countries is what we would see here: rationing, denials, and delay. In the United Kingdom, for example, a government board sets guidelines on who gets to use certain drugs and treatments. This means that even if a treatment is effective, it can be withheld from patients because of the amount of money it costs the government. This is what happens when government gets involved in the health care business.

A government plan won't come cheap either. We don't know all the details that Democratic leaders put into their bill behind closed doors, but we do know it will cost over $1 trillion in the middle of a terrible recession. It will cost $1 trillion at a time of near 10 percent unemployment; $1 trillion just a few weeks after the Treasury Department said the administration ran up the largest annual deficit in U.S. history; $1 trillion at a moment when the U.S. Government is financing 9 out of 10 new mortgages and already owns most major U.S. automakers, along with large parts of the finance and insurance industries. It will cost $1 trillion at a time when government spending accounts for a bigger share of the national economy than at any time since the Second World War. It will cost $1 trillion when Congress is about to make a public admission that it can't handle its own finances by raising the debt ceiling.

Now is not the time for a $1 trillion experiment in government health care. Now is the time to buckle down financially and to find commonsense reforms in the area of health care that actually save people money by driving down costs.

Americans asked for lower costs, and they didn't get it. What they got instead was more government, more spending, more debt. This is why so many Americans feel as though they have been taken for a ride in this debate, and it is also why a lot of our friends on the other side are concerned about the bill that is headed to the Senate floor. Americans have issued their verdict. They have been clear. They have said that enough is enough--no government plan, no more debt, no more government takeovers.

Democratic leaders may continue to insist on a bill that most Americans oppose, but it is the wrong approach. A government-owned, government-operated insurance plan was a bad idea before, and it is a bad idea now.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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