Isakson: Health Care Bill Will Drive Up Costs, Place Government in Unfair Competition with Private Market

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today voted against a flawed health care reform plan that will cost more than $1 trillion, will put the federal government in an unfair competition with private health insurers and managed care providers and will place a massive financial burden on Georgia and other states to pay for a proposed expansion of Medicaid.

The health care reform legislation, which was crafted by Senate Democrats, was approved in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by a 13 to 10 vote.

"I agree we must look for solutions to alleviate the financial burden of health care and find ways to provide affordable health care to individuals who lack access to insurance," Isakson said. "However, this bill will not do any of those things. It will only drive up the cost of health care and decrease patient choice. I cannot support legislation that will put a government bureaucrat between a patient and his doctor." 

Isakson believes that a government-run plan included in the bill will decrease choice and quality, because it would be difficult for private entities to compete with the government that regulates them and taxes them and that is exempt from having to pay taxes. Isakson also opposes a mandate in the legislation that would require employers with more than 25 workers provide insurance or pay a penalty, because he believes it will force many small businesses to eliminate jobs.

With a likely cost of more than $1 trillion, Isakson voiced disappointment that the Committee rejected several amendments designed to reduce frivolous medical lawsuits, which drive up costs and force doctors to order wasteful tests and treatments to cover liabilities.

Isakson also criticized the proposed expansion of Medicaid, which would allow individuals who earn up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for full Medicaid benefits. Currently, Medicaid is available only to those who earn up to 100 percent of the poverty level, meaning that the Democrats’ plan represents a 50 percent increase in Medicaid. When Medicaid was originally created in 1968, Georgia’s total Medicaid spending was nearly $7.7 million, or 1 percent of all state spending. In 2008, Georgia’s total Medicaid spending was over $2.4 billion, or 12 percent of all state spending. This proposal would cost Georgia and other states billions of additional dollars to meet the 50 percent increase for their required share of Medicaid costs.

Isakson is a co-sponsor of S.1099, Patients' Choice Act of 2009, which seeks to strengthen the relationship between the patient and the doctor by using choice and competition, rather than rationing and restrictions, to contain costs and ensure affordable health care for all Americans.