McConnell: To Get it Right, Let’s Hit the Reset Button on Health Care Reform

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 the debate over health care continues, it’s important that we not lose sight of the fact that the American people expect results. No one was ever elected to Congress to push a problem down the road or to point fingers. Americans want reform, and that’s exactly what they expect us to deliver. At the same time, Americans have a right to expect that the legislation we pass actually addresses the problems they face — and that we don’t use the need for reform as an excuse to pass legislation that doesn’t really help or that makes existing problems worse.



“This is the nature of the debate we’re in: Some in Washington seem to be rushing to push through so-called reforms just for the sake of reform, regardless of whether they help the situation. While others are insisting that we take the time to get it right.



“Fortunately, with each passing day, more and more Americans and, now, more and more members of Congress are insisting that we take the responsible path to health care reform — even if it means hitting the reset button and meeting in the middle on reforms that all of us can agree on and that Americans can embrace.



“Here are some of the cautionary notes we’ve heard from Senators just in the past few days:



“One top senator said, quote, that ‘It’s better to get a product that’s based on quality and thoughtfulness than on trying to just get something through.’ And last week, nine freshmen Senators wrote an open letter to the Senate Finance Committee calling for a solution that doesn’t bankrupt our health care system. Here’s what those nine Senators wrote:  ‘In the face of exploding debt and deficits, however, we are concerned that too little focus has been given to the need for cost containment.’



“We’re hearing the same things over in the House: One Congressman said on Sunday morning that, quote, the ‘American people want to take a closer look. They want to feel comfortable with it. We have a long way to go.’ Another Congressman said that he thinks Americans are, quote, ‘shell-shocked,’ unquote, after last year’s financial bailout, the Stimulus, the cap-and-trade bill, and other major bills approved this year.



“Another Congressman, referring to health care reform, asked, ‘Why are we rushing it? Let's get it right.’



America’s governors are also calling on the administration and Congress to slow down and insisting that Congress take the time to produce the right reform.



“One governor was recently quoted as saying that he’s, quote, ‘Personally very concerned about the cost issue, particularly the $1 trillion figures being batted around.’ Here’s another one commenting on proposals to shift Medicaid costs onto already-cash strapped states: ‘As a governor,’ she said, ‘my concern is that if we try to cost-shift to the states we’re not going to be in a position to pick up the tab.’



“Another governor had the same concerns about Medicaid. Here’s what he was quoted as saying in the New York Times last week, ‘Medicaid is a poor vehicle for expanding coverage.  It’s a 45-year-old system originally designed for poor women and their children. It’s not health care reform to dump more money into Medicaid.’



“All these people have something in common: they all want reform. They have concerns about the proposals we’ve seen so far, and they have something else in common too: every one of the lawmakers I’ve just quoted is a Democrat.



“Some are trying to portray this debate as a debate between Republicans and Democrats. This is a distortion of the facts, and it’s a disservice to the millions of Americans who want us to get this reform right. As I and others have said, the only thing that’s bipartisan about the reforms we’ve seen so far is the opposition. And the reason is clear: they cost too much; they don’t address the long-term challenges in our health care system; they don’t reduce long-term costs; they’d add hundreds of billions to the national debt; and there’s no way the American people will embrace them — because all of them fall well outside the boundaries of the middle path that the American people are asking us to take.



“This is why so many within the President’s own party are now standing up and telling the administration to slow down and to reassess. And this is why even traditionally Democratic groups like the AFL-CIO are having second thoughts. Just last week, the AFL-CIO criticized a plan to tax so-called gold plated insurance plans because of the impact it could have on workers. Why? Because they know that when politicians talk about raising taxes on businesses, it’s average Americans who end up shouldering most of the burden. 



“Americans don’t want to lose the quality of care that our current system provides, and they certainly don’t want to pay trillions of dollars for a government takeover of health care that could lead to the same denial, delays, and rationing of treatment that we’ve seen in other countries. They’ve heard the same stories we have: of someone with cancer being denied a drug because it costs too much, or the woman who came here from Canada to deliver her babies because there wasn’t any room in the neonatal intensive care units back home, or they’ve visited places like the MD Anderson Center in Houston, Texas, as I have, and seen how dozens of patients from other countries go there for treatments. 



“We don't know the exact circumstances that brought these people here. But we do know this: that they decided to come to the United States, in some cases traveling thousands of miles to do so, to get the kind of care that only America could provide.



“Some people, for some reason, seem afraid to admit it, but the fact of the matter is that American health care is the envy of many, many people around the world. And Americans don’t want to lose it. That’s why Americans are telling us that we can reform health care without bankrupting the country or destroying what's so unique and special about our current system.  That’s why a growing number of politicians in Washington are hearing the people’s concerns — and speaking out. And that’s why many of them are now urging the administration to take a different path.”