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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, first, I wish to extend a welcome to the President, who is coming to the Capitol today to meet with Democrats on the subject of the health care bill.

So far, they have voted to cut Medicare three times--cuts they previously described as immoral and irresponsible; cuts that made it impossible for the President to keep his pledge that people who like their plans can keep them; cuts that will reduce the quality of home health care; cuts that will reduce benefits for nearly 11 million American seniors on Medicare Advantage; cuts that raid Medicare instead of fixing it; and cuts the American people vehemently oppose.

Democrats are in a tough situation on this bill. They want to expand the government's reach into health care, but they do not have the money, and they don't have the support, more importantly, of the American people. So
what did they do? They decided to take the money they need out of Medicare, and that has only made their health care plan even less popular with the American people.

The Gregg amendment, which we will vote on later this afternoon, will help reverse the damage of last week's votes. The Gregg amendment says Democrats can't raid Medicare, which is already in serious trouble, in order to pay for their $2.5 trillion bill. The money going out of Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund already exceeds its annual income. It is already drying up. By 2017, the hospital insurance trust fund will not be able to pay full benefits, and that is before our colleagues get their hands on it. This program needs to be fixed, not pillaged to create another one.

So the Gregg amendment prohibits using money from Medicare to pay for any new government programs, for expanding existing programs, or for subsidies. Instead, it directs that any money from Medicare be put back into Medicare to strengthen and preserve it for future generations so we can keep our promises. Frankly, this is common sense.

Americans don't want this bill to pass, and they certainly don't want it to pass at the expense of the roughly 40 million American seniors who depend on Medicare. The Gregg amendment would keep that from happening. A vote for the Gregg amendment is a vote to keep our promise to seniors.

We are also going to have a vote today on the Ensign amendment. The amendment is simple: It is designed to ensure that injured patients--not their lawyers--receive the vast majority of any settlement in a medical malpractice suit. It says that since lawsuits should benefit patients, not lawyers, lawyers can't take more than one-third of the recovery their clients receive. In other words, the lawyers can't take more than one-third of what the client gets.

These are responsible limits. Moreover, they were written by a Democrat and supported in the past by 21 of our current Democratic colleagues, as well as the Vice President, and they would drive down costs, which was the original purpose of reform.

The independent Congressional Budget Office has said comprehensive liability reforms would save the taxpayers more than $50 billion. The Ensign amendment is a step in that direction.

We will offer a better, step-by-step reform to end junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals later in the consideration of this bill. I am hopeful my Democratic colleagues will support it again, since so many of them have supported it in the past.

I yield the floor.

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