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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the majority leader has signaled that he will finally unveil the most significant piece of domestic legislation in modern history sometime on Saturday--and force a vote in the middle of the night about 36 hours later. This is truly outrageous.
This will be a bill that none of my constituents have seen, that none of the majority leader's constituents have seen, that none of you have seen, and that nobody outside the Capitol has seen.
You can fit into a phone booth the number of people who have seen this bill that will affect the lives of every single American in the most profound ways.
Every American should have an opportunity to know what their Senators are being asked to vote on before anyone can see it. I doubt if anyone in this Chamber could come down here and defend the secrecy surrounding this bill.
Earlier this week, the President said:
I think it is important for every single Member of the Senate to take a careful look at what is in this bill.
Unfortunately, there is no bill to read. Let me repeat: There is literally no bill to inspect. Even Senator Durbin, my good friend from Illinois who is here on the floor, the second in command on the Democratic side, admits he hasn't seen the details of the bill.
The only thing we know for sure about this bill is that it will raise taxes, raise premiums, and slash Medicare. That much we know for sure. The Medicare cuts will be nearly $ 1/2 trillion to pay for a vast expansion of government into health care that an overwhelming majority of Americans we now know oppose.
That is what is at the heart of this bill no one has seen yet. So we may not know all the details, but we already know this bill can't be fixed, and we know Americans are outraged by what has happened in this debate. A bill that was supposed to lower costs and lower taxes and lower premiums will actually raise all three, making existing problems not better but worse. It is not too late to start over and deliver the reform Americans want--the step-by-step reforms we know would actually lower health care costs.
The majority knows this bill is a colossal legislative blunder. That is why they are rushing it through. That is why the only argument they are left with is a call to history. Well, history will be made either way, and this much is clear: Passing this bill in this way would be an historic mistake that those who support it will come to regret.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator from Maine yield for a question?
Ms. COLLINS. I will be happy to yield.
Mr. McCONNELL. I think I heard some of our colleagues say these Draconian Medicare cuts would actually lead to the closure of some rural hospitals. I am wondering if the Senator from Maine thinks that may even be possible given the magnitude of these Medicare cuts we are hearing complaints about all across America.
Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, the minority leader brings up a very good point. I know the Republican leader is familiar with the analysis that was done by Medicare's own Actuary that says that one out of five hospitals--and these are likely to be the small rural hospitals that are so important in our States--would be so jeopardized by these cuts that they may not survive. Another thing that will happen is that physicians are going to start turning away Medicare patients.
Mr. McCONNELL. I ask my friend from Maine, isn't that beginning to happen in some States already before we even take this additional step?
Ms. COLLINS. It is. My friend from Kentucky is exactly right. In my State, there are already severe shortages of primary care physicians, particularly in the more rural areas of the State--the northern, eastern, and western parts of the State. Their practices are full to start with. What we are asking them to do is to keep accepting new Medicare patients whose reimbursements will not cover the cost of their care. That is why in many States you see physicians limiting how many Medicare patients they will take. I know how painful that is for our physicians. After all, they became physicians to care for people. They want to ensure people have the care they need. But there is a limit to what they can do.
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