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Democrats' Plans To Reform Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Democrats' Plans To Reform Health Care

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about the Democrats' plans to ``reform'' our health care system.

You know, many promises have been made by the other side of the aisle about what these reforms would actually do, but now we actually have a definitive analysis, performed by the chief government actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to look at the consequences of these reforms. Well, Mr. Speaker, the diagnosis is not that good.

Both the President and his economic advisors have said that whatever bill the President signs he wants to make sure that he bends the cost curve. Well, how does the Democrat health care stack up to that pledge?

According to that chief actuary whom I just mentioned, total spending on health care would actually increase by $750 billion more than if we did nothing at all. That's right. The Democrats' plan would bend the cost curve all right, but it would bend it in the wrong direction. You see, the real overall cost of this bill would be $1.2 trillion. That's with a T. By 2019, the annual cost of the entitlement expansion would be $236 billion, and that would be rising at an annual rate of 9 percent every year. After all of this spending, there would still be around 20-some-odd million uninsured Americans. So, for those folks who are trying to keep score of all of this, that comes out to be about $35,000 per uninsured person out there.

Now, another promise that the President made was that he said, ``if you like your current coverage, you keep it.'' Well, again, look back to that government actuary whom we talked about before. According to that chief actuary, that's not true if you're a senior on Medicare, because 8.5 million seniors on Medicare today would lose their current coverage, and they would be forced into some different coverage.

Also contained in the bill are what we call arbitrary, across-the-board payment cuts to hospitals, to nursing homes and to home health agencies. Again, let's see what the chief actuary says. The chief actuary says the cuts could force such organizations, such as nursing homes and home health agencies, to leave the Medicare program and, thus, ``possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.'' That doesn't really sound like keeping the coverage you want, does it?

So maybe now, finally, the Democrat leadership in Congress will start to listen to at least a few of the ideas put forward by the Republicans. What we want to do is try to increase the access to health care coverage, to increase access to the health care delivery system and to make insurance more portable and affordable. What we want to do is try to reduce those long-term spending plans and to reduce the curve downward in order to bring down the cost of medical liability and to create a sustainable health care system.

Finally, at the end of the day, Republicans stand today, as we have always in the past, ready to work with the Democrats to enact real reform to our health care delivery system as soon as they are ready to work with us.

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