McConnell: Don’t ‘Misread’ Health Care, Too

‘Americans certainly don’t want us to throw together some patchwork plan that nobody’s had a chance to look at, and then rush it out the door the way the stimulus bill was — just so politicians in Washington can say they accomplished something’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday regarding the importance of getting it right on health care reform:

“As both parties work together on reforming health care, Americans have been clear about what they want to see in a result. Americans want health care that’s more affordable and accessible, but they also want to preserve the choice and quality that our current system provides.

“We also know what Americans don’t want. They don’t want a government plan that forces them off their current insurance; denies, delays, and rations care; or costs trillions of dollars, only to leave millions of Americans with worse health care than they currently have.

“And Americans certainly don’t want us to throw together some patchwork plan that nobody’s had a chance to look at, and then rush it out the door the way the stimulus bill was — just so politicians in Washington can say they accomplished something.

“Americans are increasingly concerned about some of the proposals coming out of Washington, and they’re concerned about the cost, about who gets stuck with the bill.

“And they’re concerned for good reason.

“All the cost estimates we’ve seen for Democrat reform proposals have been staggering, and most of them only hint at what the true cost of these changes might be.

“Moreover, some estimates claim to cover a 10-year period but actually only cover a six-year period.

“We also know from hard experience with programs like Medicare and Medicaid that government-run health plans are likely to cost far more in the long run than original estimates suggest.

“And we’ve seen that with the current administration initial estimates and assurances aren’t always on target. Earlier this year, the Administration predicted the Stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 8 percent. It’s now approaching 10 percent.

“So Americans are increasingly concerned about cost. This is why the advocates of government-run health care are scrambling for a way to pay for it. But in their rush to find the money, they’ve come up with some terrible ideas, such as forcing small business owners and seniors to pick up the tab through higher taxes and cuts to Medicare.

“Let me repeat that: the advocates for government-run health care now want small business owners and seniors to pay for their plan through higher taxes and cuts to Medicare. This is exactly the wrong approach. Raiding one insolvent government-run program to create another is not reform. It’s using old ideas to solve a problem that calls for fresh thinking. Medicare should be strengthened for future generations, not used as a piggy bank to fund more government programs.

“As for tax hikes on small business owners, this is the last thing we should be doing to the people who’ve created approximately two thirds of America’s jobs over the past decade at a time when the unemployment rate is approaching 10 percent. According to the President of the National Federation of Independent Business, some proposals currently being considered in Congress could kill more than 1.5 million jobs. And there’s strong evidence that low-wage workers, minorities, and women would be hardest hit. In the middle of a recession, we should be looking for ways to create jobs, not destroy them. We should be looking for ways to help workers, not hurt them.

“Americans want health care reform. But they don’t want so-called reforms that could cost trillions of dollars, that could increase insurance premiums, or that could cause millions to end up with worse care than they now have. And they certainly don’t want a slapped together plan that’s paid for on the backs of seniors and small business owners.

“Instead, Americans want us to work together on proposals that are likely to garner strong bipartisan support. I’ve listed many of these proposals repeatedly over the past several weeks, such as reforming medical malpractice laws to get rid of junk lawsuits and bring down costs, and encouraging wellness and prevention programs such as those that help people quit smoking and overcome obesity, programs that have already been shown to cut costs. These are some of the common-sense ideas Americans are looking for on health care reform.

“Health care reform won’t be easy. But it doesn’t have to bury our children and grandchildren deeper in debt when so far this year we’re already spending an average of $500 million a day in interest on the national debt. The proposals I’ve mentioned should be easy for everyone to agree on. They would lead to measurable results. And they wouldn’t force anyone to lose the care they have, see cuts to Medicare, or foist higher taxes on small businesses.

“Americans are concerned about the cost of reform. We should work hard to assure them that we are too.”