McConnell: ‘A Trillion-Dollar Experiment’

‘But there’s really only one thing Americans need to know about this legislation: When all the talking is through, what’s left is this: a trillion dollar experiment that cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and threatens the health care options that millions of Americans enjoy’

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 several months, the American people have made their voices heard in the debate over health care. Everyone is frustrated at the high cost of even routine services and procedures. But the good news is this: everyone agrees that these are real and pressing issues and that Congress can and should do something to help.

“Unfortunately, the Democrat plan being contemplated here in Congress isn’t content simply to address the problems at hand. Instead, this plan uses these problems as an excuse to dismantle the current health care system, slap together a new one as quickly as possible, and force it on the American people whether they like it or not.

“That’s what is going on this week in the hearing room of the Finance Committee.

“The U.S. Congress is hashing out the details of an enormously complicated bill that calls for a massive expansion of Washington’s role in the health decisions of every single American. And when they’re done, they plan to rush this so-called reform through Congress and force it on a country that’s overwhelmingly opposed to it.

“But there’s really only one thing Americans need to know about this legislation: When all the talking is through, what’s left is this: a trillion dollar experiment that cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and threatens the health care options that millions of Americans enjoy.

“The administration has been telling Americans for months and months that if they like the coverage they have, they can keep it. Whoever believes this apparently isn’t familiar with the bill that Democrats in Congress want the President to sign. If they were, they’d realize that it creates a new government standard for coverage, and that anyone who falls below that standard will be forced to buy a different health plan.

“Government would tell you which plans you can have and which ones you can’t —and if you don’t like the plan they suggest, then you’ll have to send a check to Washington. You’ll get taxed. That’s government expansion. Americans don’t want it.

“Americans are worried about spending. It seems like every time they turn around they’re hearing about another trillion dollar spending bill coming out of Washington. Well, here’s another. Once again, it’s being rushed through Congress, and once again, we won’t have enough time to read it. They made sure of that yesterday. My Republican colleague from Kentucky, Senator Bunning, offered an amendment to give senators the time they need to study the details. Democrats struck it down.

“Taxes are already high enough. They’re about to get higher. This legislation will lead to significantly higher taxes on just about everybody in America. If you have health insurance, you’re taxed. If you don’t have health insurance, you’re taxed. If you need prescription medicine, you’re taxed. If you need a medical device, you’re taxed.

“All these taxes would be bad enough if they weren’t so hard to understand …

“For months, we’ve been hearing that the goal of reform is to lower costs. Yet any school kid in America can tell you that raising taxes on something raises its cost. And every non-partisan, independent study we’ve seen confirms this basic economic principle. Despite all the talk of lowering costs, all these higher taxes mean that, as a result of this legislation, health care costs are headed in one direction, and that’s up.

“What’s worse, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office say that some of the worst taxes would fall squarely on the backs of consumers: not on the rich, but on ordinary Americans who are already struggling through a recession.

“Seniors take a serious hit from this legislation — either through cuts in services that millions of them currently enjoy, or by being forced off the plans they have. All told, this bill calls for nearly $140 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage; nearly $120 billion in Medicare cuts for hospitals that care for seniors; more than $40 billion in cuts to home health agencies; and nearly $8 billion in cuts to Hospice care.

“Everyone agrees Medicare needs reform. This isn’t reform. This is a massive raid on a program millions of seniors depend on in order to cover the cost of another new government program. This bill uses Medicare as a piggy bank to pay for this experiment.

“There’s no question that Americans want health care reform. They want lower costs. They want greater access. They want common-sense reforms, like a plan to get rid of junk lawsuits on doctors and hospitals and to level the playing field when it comes to taxes on health plans. But what they’re getting from Congress instead is a trillion dollar experiment that cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and threatens the health care options that millions of Americans now enjoy. And here’s the worst part: they’re being told that all this has to be rushed through Congress on some artificial timeline.

“Americans have been asking us to slow down. Congress is doing the opposite.

“This is not how Americans expect us to do their business. We need nonpartisan groups like the Congressional Budget Office to tell us how much this legislation will cost and how we’d pay for it, and we need to slow down and get it right. We need to give members of Congress the time they need to understand what they’re going to be voting on. And we need to give the American people the time they need to understand this legislation too. This bill is too big, too costly, and too important to allow anything less.”