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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I want to thank again my colleague from Tennessee for the great work he has been doing on the issue of health care and the many other leadership issues. There are a lot of things going on. There are a lot of moving parts in the health care reform debate situation.

I would like for us, however, to maybe pause and look back for a second as to what we heard and what has actually been going on. First, we heard the President say that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it, period. Increasing mandates on employers, who today have difficulty affording health care coverage, and cutting Medicare by $500 billion will ensure that millions of Americans will not be able to keep the coverage they have today. CBO and common sense tell us this. According to CBO, 3 million fewer Americans will be covered under employer health plans; and further, millions of seniors may lose the Medicare plan they have and that they want to keep. That is called Medicare Advantage.

We also heard the President say that he won't support legislation that increases the deficit one dime. We now know that is not true. We saw yesterday an attempt at incredible gimmickry to do away with $247 billion worth of debt that would have been associated with health care. Obviously, it is a way to get around the $ 1/4 trillion increase in the cost of health care that would have accrued if we had kept doing what we are doing. We all know that the true implementation cost of the proposal in the Senate Finance Committee is $1.8 trillion, once you look at the real numbers.

One of the more entertaining aspects of the protestations of cost savings is the approach that all of these bills take to medical malpractice reform. There is none. There is none. Before the joint session of Congress several weeks ago the President even referenced a grand initiative, that he was going to support medical malpractice reform. Consequently, we found out the announcement was that the administration was going to--get this; I am not making it up--the President was going to accept grant applications for demonstration programs. I say to the President and to my colleagues, there are already demonstration programs: One is called Texas and the other is called California. They have enacted medical malpractice reform and it has saved incredible amounts of money. CBO now estimates that real medical malpractice reforms can save the health care system $54 billion over the next 10 years. Real medical malpractice reform can save as much as $200 billion.

My favorite example so far--and then we politicians wonder sometimes why the American people are a little cynical about the things we promise and the things we commit to during political campaigns; that we are going to do A, B and C and you can count on it, et cetera. My favorite so far is when the President was running for office. Three months before he was elected, President Obama vowed not only to reform health care but also to pass the legislation in an unprecedented way. He said:

I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table.

He said that at an appearance in Chester, VA, repeating an assertion he had made many times. In referring to the debate on health care, he said the discussions would be--

..... televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.

Well, maybe the administration and the majority leader don't know where the C-SPAN cameras are. I can get them outside of Senator Reid's office at a moment's notice. In fact, they are televising this. I want to repeat what the President of the United States promised the American people specifically on health care reform. He said the discussions would be--

..... televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making the arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.

It might be a little late for the drug companies. They have already cut a sweetheart deal with the drug companies. They have agreed to oppose importation of drugs from Canada and oppose competition amongst drug companies for Medicare patient recipients in return for some $80 billion in supposed savings over 10 years, and $100-some million worth of advertising by the drug companies in favor of health care reform. I am not making it up.

President Obama also said he didn't want to be--

..... negotiating behind closed doors but bringing all parties together and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people can see what the choices are. Because, part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process.

The last I saw, they were trying to enlist the AMA by doing a $247 billion unpaid for deal so that they could buy their support. They bought the drug companies. They couldn't buy the health insurance companies, so now they are going to retaliate against them by removing their antitrust exemptions.

One thing I have to say for this administration, they know how to play hardball. They know how to play hardball. But they also don't seem to care about the commitments that the President made during his campaign for the Presidency.

I see my colleague is here--Senator Barrasso--and he wants to speak also, but I say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the American people are tired of this behind-closed-doors dealmaking, deal cutting, which none of us on this side of the aisle have had anything to do with and very few on the other side of the aisle. They are doing a multi-trillion-dollar deal which will affect the future and the lives of 300 million Americans eventually. It is not right. This process is not right.

The process they should be going through is exactly the one that the President promised the American people when he was running for President of the United States.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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