McConnell: All of Us Want Health Care Reform

‘In America in 2009, doing nothing is simply not an option. We must act and act decisively. The question is not whether to reform health care. The question is how best to reform health care’

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

“One thing that unites Democrats and Republicans this morning is that all of us want health care reform in this country. Americans want reform that addresses the high cost of care and gives everyone access to quality care. In America in 2009, doing nothing is simply not an option. We must act and act decisively. The question is not whether to reform health care. The question is how best to reform health care.

“Some are proposing as a reform that the government simply take over health care. But Americans have seen the government take over banks, insurance companies, and auto companies in recent months, and they’re concerned about it. So as we discuss health care reform, it’s understandable that many Americans would be equally if not more concerned about a government takeover of health care.

“Some are openly calling for this government takeover of health care. Others disguise their intentions by arguing for a government ‘option’ that we all know will really lead to government-run health care being the one and only option. But it should be perfectly obvious to anyone who’s followed government takeovers in the financial sector and the auto industry that government creates an unfair playing field that puts other companies at a disadvantage and only ends up hurting consumers in the end.

“We’ve seen this with the insurance bailouts. When most companies want to raise money, they have to show that they’re viable and that their products and services are a worthwhile investment. Bailed-out insurers just have to ask for more money and the government hands it over. Apply this model to health care and the government would be able to create the same kind of uneven playing field that would in all likelihood eventually wipe out the competition — thus forcing millions of people off the private health plans they already have and which the vast majority of them like.

“We’re also seeing the ill effects of government control in the auto industry. The government’s already given billions to the financing arms of Chrysler and GM, allowing them to offer interest rates that Ford and other private companies struggle to compete with. This means that the only major U.S. automaker that actually made the tough choices and didn’t take bailout money is at a major disadvantage as it struggles to compete with government-run auto companies like GM. If Ford needs money, it has to raise it at an 8% rate of interest. If GM wants money, all it has to do is call up the Treasury and ask for it. No company can compete with that.

“This is how the government subsidizes failure and undercuts private companies. And this is how a government plan could undercut private health plans — forcing people off the health plans they like and replacing those plans with plans they like less.

“No safeguard could prevent this from happening. Eventually, Americans would be stuck with government-run health care whether they like it or not. That’s when the worst scenario would take shape, with Americans subjected to bureaucratic hassles, hours spent on hold waiting for a government service rep to take a call, restrictions on care, and, yes, lifesaving treatment and lifesaving surgeries denied or delayed.

“Medical decisions should be made by doctors and patients. But once the government is in control, politicians and bureaucrats will be the ones telling people what kind of care they can have. Americans could find themselves being told they’re too old to qualify for a procedure, or that a treatment that could extend or improve their lives is too expensive. And if anyone doubts this could happen, they should consider what happened to Bruce Hardy.

“Bruce was a British citizen suffering from cancer. His doctor wanted to prescribe a drug that was proven to delay the spread of cancer and may have extended his life. But the government bureaucrats who run Britain’s health care system denied the treatment, saying the drug was too expensive. The British government told Bruce his life wasn’t worth prolonging because of what it would cost the government to buy the drugs he needed. The government decided that Bruce Hardy’s life wasn’t worth it.

“Or take the case of Shona Holmes, a Canadian citizen who was told by the bureaucrats running the health care system in that country that she’d have to wait six months … six months to see a specialist to treat her brain tumor. Here’s how Shona described her plight: ‘if I'd relied on my government, I'd be dead.’

“Shona’s life was eventually saved because she came to the United States for the care she needed. With her vision deteriorating, she went to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and the doctors there told her that immediate surgery would be needed to prevent permanent vision loss and maybe even death. Meanwhile, the government-run system in Canada would have required more appointments and more delays. Ms. Holmes got the treatment she needed when she needed it, here, in the U.S.

“The American people want to reform health care. But creating a government bureaucracy that denies, delays, and rations health care is not the reform they want. They don’t want the people who brought us the Department of Motor Vehicles making life and death decisions for them, their children, their spouses, and their parents. They don’t want to end up like Bruce Hardy or Shona Holmes.”