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Health Care

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I might point out to my friend from Mississippi that the first amendment we had on the floor of the Senate when we were considering ObamaCare was to restore that $500 billion, and it was voted down on a party-line basis.

I thank my friends for allowing me to engage in this colloquy. I want to discuss this with my friends. In my view, probably what encapsulates the problems with this legislation--the commitment began that we would provide affordable health care to all Americans, which meant we had to put the brakes on inflation in health care because health care was becoming unaffordable--the highest quality health care in the world. Nothing, in my view--and I ask my colleagues this--describes more how this whole plan went awry than the so-called CLASS Act.

Late in the debate, the CLASS Act was thrown in to provide long-term care for seniors, which seems like a worthy cause, but the whole thing was a gimmick. It was described by Senator Conrad, our chairman of the Budget Committee, as a ``Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.''

They foisted that off on us. Why? Initially, because of CBO scoring, it would show an increase in finances into revenues and into the whole ObamaCare program. But as soon as those people who were paying in became eligible, obviously, the reverse happened. Thank God for former Senator Gregg of New Hampshire, who had an amendment adopted that required the Secretary to certify that the program would be solvent for over 75 years before the program could be implemented. If it hadn't been for that, the CLASS Act would be here today.

Then, last October, the Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a report confirming what many of us knew was inevitable: that the Secretary could not certify the CLASS Act's solvency as required under law. So we went through this exercise of frantically searching for ways to increase revenue, at least the way CBO does scoring. So we did the CLASS Act and, thank God, Senator Gregg of New Hampshire put in an amendment that they had to certify that it would be viable over 75 years. There was not a snowball's chance in Gila Bend, AZ, that they were able to certify that for over 75 years it would be a viable program.

It was kind of entertaining, but late on a Friday night the Secretary of Health and Human Services said she could not certify that the program would be solvent throughout a 75-year period. The result of this was, obviously, that they didn't have the false revenues that CBO could score. They didn't have a program that could provide long-term care for seniors. Again, as the Senator from North Dakota aptly pointed out, this ``Ponzi scheme of the first order'' faced and met a well-deserved death.

That is why an overwhelming majority of the American people disapprove of this whole exercise of ObamaCare. They want it repealed. They don't support it. I am proud to say in this election we will decide whether we repeal and replace ObamaCare. The American people care about that.

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Mr. McCAIN. They could have kept it on the books. If it had not been for the amendment of Senator Gregg from New Hampshire which said they had to certify its solvency over a 75-year period, we would have the CLASS Act today, a Ponzi scheme where people would be paying in, and that is scored as revenues, and some years later when they retire, obviously, the reverse would have been true.

I have yet to hear one of my colleagues come over and admit that they were wrong about the CLASS Act. I would love to hear some of those who strongly advocated for it. My friend from Iowa, Senator Harkin, said:

So we get a lot of bang for the buck, as one might say, with the CLASS Act that we have in this bill.

Senator Whitehouse said this:

Certain colleagues on the other side of the aisle have argued that the CLASS plan would lead to a financially unstable entitlement program and would rapidly increase the Federal deficit. That is simply not accurate.

I look forward to my colleagues who supported and voted for the CLASS Act to come over and agree that it was, as Senator Conrad pointed out, a Ponzi scheme.

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Mr. McCAIN. Before that, the whole point of reforming health care was to reduce the cost of health care. That was the goal. We all know Medicare cannot be sustained for the American people if the inflation associated with health care continues. The whole object of this game was to reduce the cost of health care and preserve the quality of health care.

Does anybody think that was achieved with this legislation? That is why the American people have figured it out. I yield for the Senator from South Dakota.

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Mr. McCAIN. I ask the Senator, even though we have shut down the office of the CLASS Act, even though the Secretary of Health and Human Services said they can't certify that it will be fiscally solvent over 75 years, it is still on the books. Isn't the CLASS Act still on the books? Does the Senator think it might be appropriate, since we cannot comply with the law, to maybe repeal that portion of the law? Is that something we might think about? It might be a pretty good amendment.

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Mr. McCAIN. In addition, I ask the Senator how many new regulations have been issued, and how many new regulations do we anticipate as a result of this exercise?

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