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Public Statements

Health Care Week XV, Day II

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, from the outset of the health care debate, Americans have had one key test for reform: Will it make health care cost less? Will it make health care cost less? Well, over the past few months, a number of independent groups have reached the conclusion that the legislation we have seen fails that test. In fact, it would make health care more expensive. So even aside from the issue of whether the so-called government option is in or out of the bill that hits the floor, I think it is fair to say it isn't what the American people were looking for.

Let's start with the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO says the proposed fees and taxes on drug makers, medical labs, and medical device manufacturers would lead to higher health care premiums for Americans who get health insurance through their employers, and
it says premiums will go up for people who choose to buy their own insurance. So whether you get insurance through your employer or whether you buy it on your own, your premiums go up. The Joint Committee on Taxation, another nonpartisan group, also looked at the legislation. It says that a proposed excise tax on insurers would also drive up the cost of employer-provided insurance. Here are two independent, nonpartisan groups looking at the health care legislation we have seen. They both conclude it will drive up the cost of health care.

Americans thought reform was supposed to lower costs, not raise them. Yet every day it seems we see further confirmation that the plans under discussion would lead to higher costs and more long-term spending and debt.

One study we have seen says the Democrats' tax on insurance plans would cost families nearly $500 per year in higher premiums starting next year, long before any of the proposed benefits would kick in. Another study says that a family of four in my home State of Kentucky would see their premiums go up from about $350 a month to nearly $800 a month--a big increase. Even if these families were eligible for the subsidies in the Democratic bill, their premiums could still be about 50 percent higher than they are now. This is mind-boggling. Only in Washington would lawmakers propose a health care reform that actually raises costs and do so in the very same month the Federal Government recorded its largest deficit in history and at a time when unemployment approaches 10 percent.

Americans thought the whole point of reform was to lower costs. Yet the plans we have seen would do just the opposite, and the American people are taking notice. Americans are asking us to follow through on the initial pledge to lower health care costs, but that means enacting reforms that would actually lead to lower costs, such as getting rid of junk lawsuits and incentivizing healthy choices. Americans want reform. Instead, the administration and its allies in the Senate are giving them higher premiums, higher taxes, and massive cuts to Medicare. Mr. President, that is not reform.

I yield the floor.

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