U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will deliver the following weekly Republican address. The address is embargoed until 6:00 am ET, Saturday, December 19, 2009. The video can be viewed at Weekly Republican Address:
"Hi, I'm John McCain. Today, after nearly a year, the Senate Democrats are still trying to scramble together their latest proposal to "reform' America's health care system, which constitutes one-sixth of the American economy.
"Millions of Americans are very worried that whatever bill emerges from the confused and secretive process Democrats used to cobble this legislation together will ultimately do more harm than good. And, they have every right to be.
"The biggest problem in our health care system, and the greatest concern of a majority of Americans, are its out of control cost increases. For years, health care costs have grown far faster than the rate of inflation, making health care insurance increasingly expensive and unaffordable for more and more Americans and their employers.
"The best thing government could do to ensure more Americans have access to health care insurance is to institute reforms that would rein in costs and make health care more affordable for more Americans. Regrettably, there's nothing in this legislation that effectively addresses the problem of health care hyperinflation -- in fact, experts tells us the Democrat legislation makes matters worse.
"Instead, Democrats are proposing -- in an era of high unemployment, record deficits, and national debt -- to spend $2.5 trillion on another unsustainable entitlement program. To pay part of the costs of this enormous new burden on American taxpayers, $500 billion in new tax increases will be authorized almost immediately.
"An additional half a trillion dollars in so-called "savings' will come from cutting Medicare, including from home health care services and the popular Medicare Advantage program that 11 million seniors currently use. However, reforms of the system, such as they are, will be delayed for four years.
"According to the government's own health care scorekeepers, the bill will increase the cost of health care as well as the health insurance premiums Americans pay to cover health care inflation.
"That's why thousands of physicians, large and small American businesses and, according to a recent poll, 61 percent of the American people oppose this ill-considered and ruinously expensive government failure to address the biggest threat to the viability of America's health care system. To disguise the costs of their reforms, Democrats are resorting to accounting gimmicks that would make Bernie Madoff blush.
"Contrary to assurances from the White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress, the process Democrats used to write the bill was anything but open and bipartisan. It was an exercise in legislative sausage-making conducted behind closed doors without the participation of Republicans.
"The Administration cut deals with the drug companies to get their support, which ensured increased profits for them and increased costs for consumers. As part of the deal, the White House even opposed an amendment authored by a senior Democratic Senator -- which I and other Republicans supported -- which would have made it easier for Americans to safely import their prescription drugs at substantially lower costs from Canada and other approved exporters.
"Every major reform in American history has been a bipartisan effort. I've worked with Democrats on many occasions to solve some of the country's most urgent problems. Never in my experience has one party attempted to increase the government's influence in one-sixth of the American economy over the nearly unanimous opposition of the other party.
"Despite having the best quality health care in the world, Republicans recognize it's too expensive and too many Americans don't have access to affordable health care. And, we are committed to doing something about it.
"We would welcome the opportunity to work with Democrats to make health care more affordable and accessible by addressing the underlying problems that drive health care cost increases. We could bring down these costs by reforming litigation abuses of the system; the junk lawsuits that result in the practice of wasteful defensive medicine and drive up insurance premiums. We could lower costs and improve the quality of health care if we transformed the way we pay health care providers to emphasize the quality of the treatment and outcomes.
"We could lower insurance premiums by allowing insurance companies to compete for your business across state lines. And, we could institute insurance reforms that would make sure people with existing medical conditions could get insurance and the care they need without imposing massive new burdens on taxpayers.
"These reforms and others would go a long way toward addressing the most urgent problems in our health care system. They would have bipartisan support, and I believe the support of a majority of Americans.
"Democrats have chosen to go another way. The result will be a health care system that costs more and still leaves millions without coverage. The hour is late, but there's still time to stop Congress from making this terrible mistake. Contact your Senators and Representatives today, and urge them and the White House not to make our health care problems worse, but to start working with committed members of both parties to make the best quality health care in the world more affordable and accessible to the people who elected us.
"I'm John McCain. Happy holidays and thank you for listening."