McConnell: Listen to Americans on Health Care

‘Americans have concerns about what they’re hearing, and they’re being told to shut up, sit down, and take the health care we give you. This is the kind of thing they’re protesting and speaking out against across the country. And over the last few months, Congress hasn’t given them any reason to believe that their concerns aren’t exactly right’

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

“Senators are still hashing the details of the Democrat health care proposal that they plan to bring to the floor, and it isn’t getting any better.

“Americans wanted us to work together on reforms that improve the system we have. What they’re getting instead is a bill that creates an entirely different system in which government plays a bigger and bigger role in people’s health care decisions. They’re slapping this plan together as quickly as possible, and then they’re going to 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.

“Supporters of this bill are watching the clock. They know the longer it sits out there, the more Americans will oppose this trillion dollar experiment that cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and threatens the health care choices that millions of Americans now enjoy. That’s why they struck down a common-sense amendment this week that would have given the American people 72 hours to look at the details of this legislation.

“They’re rushing it through, hoping no one gets to see the fine print. Why else would they deny this 72-hour amendment that gives people the time they need to read a 1,000 page bill? Why else would they be dismissing anyone who raises a peep of opposition? Why else would they be asking people to forward fishy emails to the White House? And why else would the administration order an investigation into a private company for telling its clients the truth about what this legislation would mean for them?

“More and more, it seem like supporters of this legislation just don’t believe that the American people know what’s best for themselves, so they want to keep them in the dark about the details. But that’s not the way Democracy works. And that’s why Republicans sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday calling on the HHS Secretary to rescind the gag order that it placed on companies that want to tell seniors how health care legislation will affect them. Seniors deserve to know what’s in this bill, and insurers should be free to tell them.

“But until that gag rule is lifted, we’ll tell seniors ourselves, because it hits them hard.

“It cuts services that millions of seniors currently enjoy. It could force seniors off the plans they have with nearly $140 billion in cuts to one popular Medicare plan; it calls for 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. Lawmakers want to use Medicare as a piggy bank to pay for their experiment, and seniors are going to suffer for it. The response we keep getting from the administration is that hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare won’t affect services. Who can blame seniors for scratching their heads over that one? How do you cut half a trillion dollars from something without anybody noticing the difference? Seniors, rightly, just aren’t buying it.

“Americans want reform. They want lower costs. They want greater access for people without insurance. And they want Congress to deliver common-sense solutions to all these problems. What they’re getting instead is a trillion dollar experiment that cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and threatens the health care options that millions of Americans now enjoy. And they’re being told it all has to be done as fast as possible to meet some artificial deadline that no one can explain.

“Americans want us to slow down, and Congress is putting its foot on the accelerator. Americans want to know what this bill would mean for them, and Congress won’t let them read it before a vote — won’t even allow them 72 hours to look over the details of a 1,000 page piece of legislation that will affect one of the most significant aspects of their lives. Americans have concerns about what they’re hearing, and they’re being told to shut up, sit down, and take the health care we give you.

“This is precisely the kind of condescending attitude from lawmakers in Washington that ordinary Americans are tired of. This is the kind of thing they’re protesting and speaking out against across the country. And over the last few months, Congress hasn’t given them any reason to believe that their concerns aren’t exactly right.”