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Health Care

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, later this morning President Obama is scheduled to speak in Virginia on the economy. I have not seen the speech, but I expect he will not be talking about the negative impact his health care bill is already having on job creation, and I guarantee he will not be talking about one provision in particular, the CLASS Act, which the House of Representatives is voting to repeal today.

Like so many of his policies, the CLASS Act has not turned out the way the American people were told it would. At the time of its passage, Americans were told it would be a long-term care cost saver. Proponents of the CLASS Act said it would account for nearly half of the deficit reduction they claimed the health care bill would somehow miraculously bring about.

More recently, however, the administration has admitted that government officials knew their projections about the CLASS Act could not possibly be true. They knew it would not work as advertised. Yet the Obama administration went ahead with it anyway.

In 2009, the Chief Medicare Actuary wrote that, based on his 36 years of actuarial experience, he believed the CLASS Act would ``collapse in short order, and require significant Federal subsidies to continue'' and that it would lead to what he called an insurance death spiral since only the sickest people would sign up, making it impossible for the program to remain solvent. Another health care policy official said that the program ``seemed like a recipe for disaster.''

So last October the Obama administration was finally forced to admit what they refused to admit when the health care bill first passed: that the CLASS Act was indeed unsustainable. As HHS Secretary Sebelius put it, there is no viable path forward for the program. Yet for some reason the President is unwilling to follow through on that conclusion by his own administration. He opposes today's vote over in the House.

Most people would conclude that the administration would support repealing a portion of the health care bill that they now acknowledge is not financially viable, but they would be wrong. Despite admitting this program is doomed to fail, the Obama administration refuses to take it off the books. This refusal is all the more remarkable given the fact that President Obama has repeatedly said he is willing to listen to critics of his health care bill if they come up with ways to improve it. When it comes to the CLASS Act, the President does not even appear to be willing to listen to himself.

Well, it should be obvious what is going on here. The President is so determined to distract people from his own legislative record that he does not even want to have a conversation about it. He is so determined to convince people that the ongoing economic crisis is someone else's fault that he is acting as though the first 3 years of his Presidency never even happened. He refuses to admit the central role his policies have played in prolonging the economic mess we are in. Instead of leading, the President is biding his time, hoping the public will blame someone else for the jobs crisis. Instead of acknowledging the effects of his own policies, he is hoping he can change the subject. The problem is, the longer we wait to tackle these problems, the harder they will be to solve. And, frankly, most Americans think the President should be leading that charge, not avoiding it.

In 2009, President Obama said that rising health care costs were the most pressing fiscal challenge we faced as a nation. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office said government health care costs will double over the next decade. So the verdict is in. The administration looked at an area that both parties agree was in critical need of reform, and they made it worse, and now they will not even admit it. Why? Because it interferes with the President's reelection strategy. If it is about him or his policies, he does not want to talk about it. And when it comes to the CLASS Act, it is easy to see why.

So I would encourage our friends over in the House in their efforts today. I hope they send this bill over to the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote. If the President will not listen to his own advisers, let's hope he listens to Congress on the failures of his health care bill and in particular the failures of the CLASS Act.

If we are going to replace the President's health care bill with the kind of commonsense reform that the American people want, repealing the CLASS Act is a good place to start. As the House is showing today, if the President refuses to act on this important issue, Congress will.

I yield the floor.


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