WASHINGTON – Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), member of the Senate Finance Committee, today during the Committee’s Consideration of America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 made the following statement:

“The desire for reform is universal. Republicans want to work towards a responsible solution,” said Hatch, “but we will not let this moment of crisis justify a solution that we cannot afford and starts us down a path of Washington takeover of our health care system.”

Hatch concluded, “There is still time to press reset and push for a solution that can bring us all together.”

While Hatch believes we should “do exactly what American families are demanding – step back, take a deep breath and start over on a truly bipartisan bill,” he filed numerous amendments in hopes to protect middle class families from tax increases, ensure continued access to quality care for seniors, promote prudent and proven tort reform, and stop out of control government spending.

Some of Hatch’s amendments include:

- An amendment to exempt any middle-class American family from tax increases of any kind in this bill.

- An amendment to stop the implementation of the bill if more than 1,000,000 Americans lose their current health care coverage because of the bill.

- An amendment to prohibit federal health care funds from being spent on abortions.

- An amendment to restore and protect the Medicare Advantage Program, which is enjoyed by almost 10 million seniors

- An amendment to reign in trial lawyer awards in health care lawsuits.

- An amendment to preserve health flexible savings accounts -- accounts which millions of Americans use to pay for health care services.

- An amendment to strike the new taxes being imposed on medical devices such as hospital beds and hearing aids, which will simply be passed on to American families.

- An amendment to protect tax payer dollars and prohibit funding in the bill from going to groups such as ACORN.

Hatch’s full remarks follow:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin this morning by first commending you and your staff for your sincere commitment toward finding a bipartisan solution to reforming our health care system. I can sincerely state that each of us, on both sides of the aisle, had hopes that we could be here today considering a health care reform bill that enjoyed wide bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, due to outside pressures and arbitrary timelines faced by the Chairman, we are now considering a bill that once again proposes – more spending, more government and more taxes as a solution to reforming one-sixth of our economy.

Affordable and quality health care for every American is neither a Republican nor a Democratic issue — it is an American issue. We are standing at a historic moment – both in terms of opportunity and crisis. Health care costs are out of control as they continue to rise three times faster than inflation and four times faster than wages. Last month, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that our nation's deficit for 2009 will be a staggering $1.6 trillion, and our national debt is on a path to double within the next five years and triple within the next decade. And this is all before factoring in the massive price tag associated with the current health care proposals.

The desire for reform is universal. Republicans want to work towards a responsible solution, but we will not let this moment of crisis justify a solution that we cannot afford and starts us down a path of Washington takeover of our health care system. We need to take a more targeted approach. By focusing on areas of compromise rather than strife, we can reach consensus on a financially responsible and targeted bill that could earn the support of Republicans, Democrats and, more important, American families.

We can reform the health insurance market to ensure that no one is denied coverage or care simply because of a pre-existing condition; provide greater transparency on cost and choice; curb frivolous lawsuits, which by the way literally just gets lip service in this legislation as a Sense of the Senate; encourage chronic care management to better control the health of the sickest and most costly patients; and promote prevention and wellness initiatives to keep Americans healthy.

We should give states the flexibility to design their own unique approaches to reducing the number of uninsured instead of trying to force or foist a one-size-fits-all solution on the states. Furthermore, we need to help small businesses — the economic engine that creates 70% of American jobs — and the self-employed to buy affordable coverage by allowing them to band together and buy insurance just like large corporations.

At a time when we are drowning in red ink, and government-run programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are headed for financial insolvency, the last thing we need is another big federal spending bill that puts the focus on Washington instead of our families. It is possible to achieve meaningful and bipartisan reform this year. To do that, however, we must be more responsible and realistic in our health care reform initiatives to craft legislation that we all can be proud of.

If anyone believes that Washington, let me repeat Washington, can run a national health care plan that will cost close to a trillion dollars, cover all Americans, not raise taxes on anyone, not increase the deficit and not reduce benefits or choices for our families and seniors – then I have a bridge to sell to you.

I have been saying this from day one, if you are going to spend almost another trillion dollars on a system that already costs more than $2 trillion a year – you will have to raise taxes on American families, including middle-class families.

This bill contains almost $350 billion in new taxes on American families and businesses. This at a time when we are facing one of the toughest economic conditions our nation has ever seen. Let me take a moment to highlight some of the policies proposals found in the legislation that we are considering today:

- $27 billion in new taxes on employers that will disproportionately affect the hiring practices of low-income Americans at a time when our unemployment rate is almost in double digits.

- $20 billion in new taxes on a new mandate on families making as little as $66,000 being penalized up to $3,800 for not buying a Washington-defined plan. This is a new tax on middle class families.

- $300 billion in NEW excise taxes on everyone from insurance providers to device makers to clinical labs – and every expert will tell you that these - so called fees - will all be simply passed on to American families on everything from their already sky-high insurance premiums to blood tests to thermometers to hearing aids. So much for reducing costs.

This is not all, we are taking more than $400 billion out of Medicare – a program that is going bankrupt in 2017. This is a testament to the efficiency of Washington. Use a program that has a $38 trillion unfunded liability as a piggybank to finance more government spending.

We have all done this long enough to know that when Washington tells you that something will cost five dollars, it always costs at least ten dollars, usually much more. So guess what, as our deficit continues to rise and our debt triples in the next decade, all these taxes will continue to rise. This bill is laying the seeds. We are giving Washington a whole new checkbook.

I commend the President’s commitment to only signing a bill that does not add a penny to our growing deficit. I sincerely hope that we will apply the same standards of honesty in our accounting of this bill, as we are now demanding from our families and businesses.

First, it is important to know that most of the major provisions of this bill do not really start till 2013 and 2014, coincidentally right after the Presidential elections, so the initial 10 year price tag of $856 billion is a significant underestimation. So in reality this is not a 10 year score, it is a 6-7 year best guess. The real 10 year cost of this bill will be significantly higher. More importantly, I am very concerned that on legislation this important, which the Chairman has rightfully described as the “single largest social bill since the Great Depression,” we will not have a complete score. At a time, when Americans all over the nation are outraged that some Members do not even know what is in the bill, how can we justify making decisions without fully understanding the impact of these policies?

I sent a letter to the President, right before his joint address to Congress, asking him to do exactly what Americans families are demanding – step back, take a deep breath and start over on a truly bipartisan bill. There is still time to press reset and push for a solution that can bring us all together.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.