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Public Statements

Health Care: Higher Premiums

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, Americans have always had a healthy skepticism about government. But the health care bill that Democrats in Congress have put together this year would surprise even the wariest of citizens about government's potential to misread its mandate.

At a time of near 10-percent unemployment and a staggering $12 trillion Federal debt, this bill proposes to spend at least another trillion dollars to extend the reach of government in the health care decisions of every single American.

What's worse, a bill that was meant to control costs is expected to increase them. One independent study after another has shown that the bills we have seen wouldn't make health insurance premiums go down, they would actually drive them up.

You would think this would be enough to send the bill writers back to the drawing board. After all, the primary argument that was used to marshal support for these bills was the unsustainable cost of health care. Unfortunately, it hasn't. Frankly, it is an absurd spot in which we now find ourselves.

For months and months, we heard that certain reforms were needed to drive down costs. Yet now, after analysts have concluded that these proposals would actually increase costs, the people who were arguing for them are trying harder than ever to get these proposals approved, as quickly as possible.

The irreducible fact is this: while Americans have been saying we need more affordable health care, the Democrat plan makes it more expensive--and that is not reform.

We have the testimony of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Budget Office, the administration's own Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and separate analyses by many others that say so. Each has said that the proposals we have seen would lead to higher premiums. And these higher premiums would especially hit the young, the healthy, and small businesses owners.

Here is the breakdown. Premiums for young people could go up nearly 70 percent, and even more than that in places such as Kentucky. And millions of Americans who have chosen a plan that fits their needs and their budgets will be forced to buy more insurance, at a significant cost. Like most of my colleagues, I am particularly concerned about what these plans will mean for the families I represent. And what I have seen so far from these reports is disturbing.

As a result of all the various new rules, regulations, and tax increases that would come about as a result of the Democrat health care plan, a family of four in Kentucky that earns $66,000 a year is estimated to see their insurance premium double--from $355 to $787 a month.

The other side will say that they intend to provide subsidies for families like these, and they do. But those subsidies would only cover about half the increase. So even after these subsidies are applied, this family ends up paying an extra $180 a month. As any family will tell you, that's $180 that will not go to the college fund, to the retirement account, or toward a family vacation.

New taxes on medical devices would also contribute to higher premiums.

Same goes for new taxes on life-saving prescription drugs and new taxes on insurance providers. One independent study shows that the new taxes and fees would add nearly $500 a year to the cost of insurance for American families.

The Congressional Budget Office also predicts that a new charge to participate in so-called exchanges would lead private health plans to increase their premiums by about three percent. That is on top of all the other forces in this bill that work to drive up Americans' health insurance premiums.

The testimony of these groups is clear: the Democrat plan would not only raise taxes and slash Medicare, it would also raise health insurance premiums. This is not reform, and it's certainly not what the American people were told they could expect.

Republicans have proposed a different approach, one that responds to today's needs and one that respects the challenging economic environment we're in.

We are for helping small businesses find affordable health insurance options for their employees. We are for providing individuals the same tax benefits for purchasing insurance that businesses get.

We are for protecting doctors from frivolous lawsuits, so they can focus on treating patients--and lower their costs. We are for cracking down on the rampant waste and fraud that drive up the cost of care. And we are for the kind of wellness and prevention programs that have worked at places like the Safeway grocery chain.

Contrast that with the other side's plan. A reform that was meant to cut costs has been shown to increase them. As I said, that is not reform. But it is also not too late. It is not too late for the parties to get together and deliver the reforms Americans really want.

I yield the floor.

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