McConnell: Where are the common-sense reforms that Americans support?

‘Now it’s time to let the American people study the bill themselves. Before we bring any legislation to the floor, we need to make sure that the American people and all of our colleagues have the time to carefully read it and evaluate its potential effects on our health care system and the economy in general’

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:

“Over the past few months, the American people have been sending us a clear message on health care: they want reforms that make health care more affordable and accessible, that increase choice, and that keep government out of their health care decisions.

“What they don’t want are so-called reforms that cut seniors’ health care, force Americans off the private health plans they have, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, raise taxes, and put government bureaucrats in charge of health care.

“But that’s exactly what they’d get under the plan that was released by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

“So while I appreciate the hard work that the Senior Senator from Montana put into this legislation, and he certainly has, I’m extremely disappointed that it doesn’t reflect the concerns Americans have been expressing for weeks about health care reform.

“That much is clear. Now it’s time to let the American people study the bill themselves. Before we bring any legislation to the floor, we need to make sure that the American people and all of our colleagues have the time to carefully read it and evaluate its potential effects on our health care system and the economy in general.

“Americans got rushed on the Stimulus. They won’t be rushed on health care. Not on an issue that affects every single American. Before we discuss or vote on any plan, we need to know what it does, how much it costs, and how it will be paid for.

“Here’s what we know now about the Finance Committee plan.

• First, the Finance Committee proposal would cut hundreds of billions of dollars from seniors’ Medicare benefits to pay for new government programs.

• America’s seniors want us to fix Medicare, not take money from it to pay for a new, untested trillion-dollar government program.

• This bill would also break the President’s promise to seniors that they won’t be required to change the coverage they have. Right now, 11 million seniors are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, a program that gives them more options and choices when it comes to their health care. Ninety percent of these seniors are satisfied with their plans. The Finance bill would make massive cuts to Medicare Advantage and force some seniors to give it up — something that even one of our Democrat friends just yesterday called ‘intolerable.’

• Senators from both sides of the aisle are concerned about the new burdens this bill would impose on states in the form of a Medicaid expansion. Unlike the federal government, many states are constitutionally required to have balanced budgets. This means that if politicians in Washington force them to increase spending on Medicaid, they’ll very likely have to cut services or raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

• The Finance bill could kill jobs by forcing employers to provide insurance, regardless of whether or not they can afford it. And while advocates of the bill say it doesn’t contain an employer mandate, their claim just doesn’t square with the facts. If you tell an employer that they either have to provide insurance or pay a penalty, that’s a mandate.

• The Finance bill contains approximately $350 billion dollars in new taxes. And some of these taxes, such as those on medical devices ranging from MRIs to Q-tips and new taxes on insurance plans, will drive up insurance premiums and make health care even more expensive for American families. If there was one thing we thought everyone agreed on, it was that any reform should not make health care more expensive. Yet this Q-tip tax would actually increase health care costs. And that’s why senators from both parties have warned that it would put thousands of jobs in jeopardy and deter innovation.

“The Senate Finance bill also contains a CO-OP, which is just another name for a government plan, and it still gives the government far too much control over our health care system. It cuts seniors’ benefits, spends hundreds of billions of dollars, and raises taxes to pay for another trillion-dollar government program.

“And it still doesn’t contain the kind of common-sense reforms that the American people support and Republicans have consistently recommended, such as meaningful reforms to get rid of junk lawsuits on doctors and hospitals and reforms to level the playing field when it comes to taxes on health care plans.

“There’s no question that Americans want health care reform — but they want the right reforms and they want us to take the time we need to get it right. During the month of August, the American people sent us a clear message on health care. I’m disappointed that many of my colleagues weren’t listening.” ###