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Pros And Cons Of Health Care Reform Proposals

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Pros And Cons Of Health Care Reform Proposals

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the health care reform bill offered by Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership, which we anticipate will be voted on possibly before the end of this week, and in support of the commonsense, practical alternative offered by Congressman John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House.

Madam Speaker, this legislation offered by Speaker Pelosi is over 2,000 pages long and contains about 400,000 words. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this government takeover of the health care system in the United States, this legislation uses the word ``shall'' 3,425 times. When you see the word ``shall'' in legislation, you should read a mandate, a requirement, that the government is requiring somebody to do something to comply with what people here in Washington know best, not in terms of what people know is best for themselves. This legislation contains that word 3,425 times. It is truly a remarkable, complex government takeover.

In the original bill offered earlier this year, which was 1,000 pages long, there was the creation of 53 new Federal Government agencies and programs. In the new improved revised version, there are now 111 Federal Government agencies and programs contained in this legislation, which will cost the American taxpayers and our senior citizens more than $1.1 trillion. That is the official government estimate. There are many health care experts who say that the implementation of this legislation will cost far, far more.

As an example, many have pointed to the projected cost of Medicare when it was enacted in 1965. It was projected that it would cost $10 billion to $12 billion 25 years later; but by the end of the 1980s, Medicare was actually costing the American taxpayers more than $100 billion. In fact, today it costs more than $400 billion per year; and the Speaker's proposal says, well, let's take out of that $400 billion per year. Let's take about $40 billion a year, or 10 percent of that, and divert it to other new government programs.

Well, Madam Speaker, the problem with that is that the Medicare program today is faced with enormous challenges. The projected unfunded liability for Medicare over the lifetime of the average American today is more than $17 trillion, here at a time when starting next year senior citizens will increase in their numbers dramatically because the baby boomers, those born in the years after World War II and up until the early 1960s, will be retiring, will be reaching eligibility age for Medicare, and year after year after year the number of Medicare-eligible senior citizens will increase dramatically.

At the same time that will be occurring, this Congress is suggesting that it will be okay to take $400 billion out of the Medicare program to spend on an entirely new health care program that is projected to cost $1.1 trillion over 10 years, and I suggest will cost far more than that. So Medicare is going to be jeopardized by this legislation, and senior citizens across this country are aware of that.

They certainly were aware of it in Virginia this year, my home State, when they turned out on Tuesday in very large numbers to send a message to Washington that this health care proposal and other dramatic government takeovers of sectors of our economy is unacceptable and it resulted in a sweep across the elections in Virginia. And in the only two States in the country where there were Governors races up this year, New Jersey and Virginia, Democratic Governors were replaced by Republican Governors. People are looking to Washington.

There is a story in today's New York Times entitled ``Democrats to Use Election to Push Agenda in Congress.'' Well, good luck with that, because I can tell you that the people who turned out at the polls in Virginia were not asking for this agenda to be pushed forward as a result of what they have been seeing going on in Washington, D.C. Instead, they want commonsense, bipartisan reforms of health care.

Health care is in need of reform. It costs too much, and not enough Americans receive it. The Republican alternative provides for that. The Democratic alternative does not.

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