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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I wish to reiterate the point the majority leader made--that he is anticipating us being in on the weekends--and to underscore why that seems to be necessary, which is because the majority is intent on passing this health care bill that the American people oppose. We know that from all of the surveys.

In addition to that, there are a number of things that actually must be done this month: We have a debt ceiling expiring, or needing to be expanded, according to the administration; we have not passed appropriations bills; there are tax extenders that expire at the end of the year; there are PATRIOT Act provisions that expire at the end of the year. There are many things we must do this month. Yet we are going to spend an enormous amount of time working on a bill the American people wish we would not pass this month.

Let me, first, welcome everybody back--Senators and staff--after what, hopefully, was a restful and happy Thanksgiving. I actually worked Monday and Tuesday of last week, and I had a chance to spend a good deal of time out in my State of Kentucky with a number of folks. I must tell you nobody was shy about telling me what they thought about the health care bill. Nobody was shy about it. They had obviously been paying a lot of attention to it. Many had focused on the vote to proceed to this 2,074-page bill, Saturday a week ago. Many people have an opinion. So far, not a single, solitary Kentuckian did I run into--admittedly, this is anecdotal--but not a single, solitary one said anything other than you have to stop that health care bill. I assured them we were going to do the very best we could to either dramatically change it by amendment or, hopefully, on a bipartisan basis, keep this 2,074-page bill from passing.

A lot of people I met had that kind of observation. I expect it is pretty similar across the country. Kentuckians want to know how spending trillions of dollars we don't have on a plan that raises health insurance premiums and taxes on families and small businesses is good for health care or for jobs or for the economy, for that matter. The fact is, Americans feel like they have been taken for a ride in this debate, and they are beginning to realize what administration officials meant when they said a crisis was a terrible thing to waste. Early this year, they said: A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

The notion that we would even consider spending trillions of dollars we don't have in a way the majority of Americans don't even want is proof this health care bill is completely and totally out of touch with the American people. It is now perfectly clear what happened. The administration and its allies in Congress have wanted to push government-run health care for many years, and they view the economic crisis we are in as their moment to do it. So they sold their plan as an antidote to the recession, even though their plan would only make things worse. But now Americans are beginning to see the truth behind the rhetoric. No one believes--no one--that trillions in spending, taxes, and debt will do anything but kill jobs and darken the economic prospects of struggling Americans and their children.

The administration's health care plan will not alleviate the situation we are in. Instead, it would punish struggling Americans at a moment when all they want is a little help.

Proponents of this bill couch their efforts with the refrain that history is calling. I think they have got it half right. Someone's calling all right, but it is not history. It is the American worker. He is wondering where the jobs are. It is the middle-class family wondering how Congress could try to pass a scheme that won't do anything to control costs. It is one of the roughly 40 million seniors wondering when Medicare became a piggy bank to fund more government and higher premiums.

I have enumerated the specifics about the Medicare cuts in this bill before: nearly $135 billion in cuts to hospitals, $120 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage, nearly $15 billion in cuts to nursing homes, more than $40 billion from home health agencies, early $8 billion from hospices--hospices. Nearly one-half trillion dollars in cuts: this is what some have audaciously started referring to as ``Saving Medicare.'' I don't know what's more preposterous: saying that this plan ``saves Medicare,'' or thinking that people will actually believe you.

Arthur Diersing gets it. He is a constituent of mine from Versailles, KY. Here's what he had to say about this plan. He wrote:

I ..... agree that there are some things in the health care system that need to be fixed or improved. But let's work on the most important 5-6 issues rather than turn the whole system upside down, and run up the cost for all of us and take away from us seniors.

Mr. Diersing knows what he is talking about. He knows this bill doesn't reflect the views of the American people. Americans have been asking us to cut costs, not raise them. They want the kinds of step-by-step reforms that would actually make a difference, without bankrupting the country and without further expanding the role of the government in their lives. Americans don't want this bill to pass. Instead, they want us to earn their trust with the kind of commonsense reforms Republicans have been talking about all year and which our friends have brushed aside.

Americans want us to end junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals that drive up costs. And yet there is not a serious word about doing so in the 2,074 pages of the Democrat bill. Americans want us to encourage healthy choices like prevention and wellness programs. And yet Democrat leaders couldn't come up with a serious word about these kinds of reforms in 2,074 pages.

Americans want us to lower costs by letting consumers buy coverage across State lines. They want us to let small businesses band together to negotiate lower insurance rates. And yet Democrats have ignored both of these ideas, despite having 2,074 pages to include such ideas.

Americans also want us to address the rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in the current system before we create an entirely new government program. And yet Democrats don't seriously confront this problem in their 2,074 page monument to more government, more taxes, more spending, and more debt.

Americans are fed up with big-government solutions that drive up taxes and debt and which only seem to create more problems, more abuse, and more fraud.

In the face of this, our friends on the other side of the aisle appear determined to plow ahead with their plans. They don't seem to care that Americans are telling them to stop and start over and fix the problem, which is health care costs.

Democrat leaders may think they hear history calling. But the sounds they should be hearing are the voices and the concerns of ordinary Americans. The American people will be heard in this debate, I assure you. In a democracy, public opinion should not be and never is irrelevant.

At the beginning of the health care debate, we were told this $1 trillion experiment would actually lower premiums for American families. Yet just this morning, this very morning, the independent Congressional Budget Office provided an analysis showing that the Democratic bill will actually increase premiums for American families. That is the CBO this morning. It indicated this will actually increase premiums for American families. So a bill that is being sold as a way to reduce costs actually drives them up.

The bottom line is this: After 2,074 pages and trillions more in government spending, massive new taxes and one-half trillion dollar cuts in Medicare, most people, according to the Congressional Budget Office--most people--will see their insurance premiums go up. This is not what the American people are asking for, and it certainly is not reform.

I yield the floor.


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