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Public Statements

Health Care Week XVI Day I

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, for months, the American people have been sending us a clear message about what they want to see in health care reform. They want practical, common-sense reforms that drive down the cost of care, improve access, and create more choices. What they are getting instead from Congress are higher premiums, higher taxes, Medicare cuts, and more government control over their health care decisions.

They are getting the same old big-government solutions to problems that call for creative, modern-day solutions.

Quite simply, there seems to be a disconnect between the American people and Democrat leaders in Congress. And nowhere is that disconnect more apparent than in the 2,000-page bureaucratic monstrosity of a bill that House Democrats dropped on the American people last week.

At its core, this bill is very similar to what we have already seen in the Senate--a trillion-dollar government experiment that raises taxes, raises premiums, slashes Medicare, and leads to unprecedented government control over the health care decisions of Americans. That is the foundation, the starting-off point. It doesn't get any better from there.

Let's start with the pricetag. At a time of unprecedented government spending and a staggering $12 trillion debt, the Democrat health care bill asks taxpayers to pony up at least another trillion dollars. To get some sense of the size of that figure, consider the fact that this bill would cost more than $2 million per word. And believe it or not, that is a conservative estimate.

Once fully implemented, the bill will spend $2.3 trillion. And this doesn't even account for the $250 billion that is needed to prevent a cut in reimbursements to doctors who treat Medicare patients. While this so-called ``Doc Fix'' is no longer in the bill, we saw last month how Democrats in both the House and Senate plan to pay for it. They want to put this $250 billion on the government credit card and then claim their plans don't add to the deficit.

Well, Americans aren't buying it.

The bill would also hit already-struggling States by imposing a crippling, 10-year, $34 billion expansion of Medicaid. And it fails to meet the key test that Americans had set for reform, which was to control costs. Indeed, contrary to early promises by the administration about the need to control costs, this bill would actually increase long-term Federal health care spending.

The health care choices that Americans currently enjoy would also be limited under this bill, and the government's role would increase dramatically. If you don't want to buy insurance, too bad: under this bill, the government forces you either to buy insurance or pay a new 2.5-percent tax. Under this bill, the government would also tell you what kind of insurance you can have by dictating the benefits you receive. If a politician in Washington doesn't approve of your current health care plan, you may be forced to give it up. Ironically, the person who would dictate your benefits would go by the title of the Health Choices Commissioner only in Washington, Mr. President.

Notably, this bill no longer includes language from earlier draft legislation stating that essential benefits coverage should not lead to the rationing of health care.

Language preventing rationing is out. We can only conclude from the exclusion of this language that the bill writers have opened the door to rationing care at some point down the road--just like every other country that has gone in the direction of government-run health care for all.

Business owners are also a special target of this bill. The government will tell all but the smallest employers they must cover employees even if they cannot afford it. If they refuse, they get hit with a $135 billion tax--a tax that independent experts warn will lower wages and kill jobs.

Unemployment is nearly 10 percent, despite the administration's prediction that it would not rise past 8 percent if we passed the stimulus. But instead of trying to create jobs, Democrats are trying to push through a trillion-dollar experiment with massive new taxes that would kill even more jobs right in the middle of a recession.

Finally, under this bill, the government would create a government-run health care plan that Americans oppose. Democrats say the whole point of a government plan is to give Americans a lower cost option. But the CBO has said that the premiums for the House government plan would actually be higher than the premiums for private plans. So in order for the government plan to meet its goal of offering a lower cost alternative, it would have to use the power of government to subsidize costs, ration care, and undercut private insurers. Democrats may call this an option, but it is clear to everyone else that this type of government-run plan would eventually become the only option.

Americans want real reforms that lower costs and increase access--reforms such as getting rid of junk lawsuits, leveling the playing field on health care taxes, and incentivizing healthy choices. Yet instead of adopting these commonsense ideas, the authors of this bill seem intent on forcing the American people to accept more spending, more debt, more taxes, and more government in their daily lives.

You can call that a lot of things. You can call it a lot of things, but you cannot call it reform. The passage of time has not been good to Democratic efforts at health care reform. Earlier versions were deeply flawed to begin with. But when Americans look closely at this latest version, they will wonder who exactly congressional leaders have been listening to over the past several months. Clearly, it is not the American people.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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