Bennett to Democrats: Don't Shut Out Republicans on Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) in a speech this week on the Senate floor expressed his objection to the Democrats' attempt to exclude Republicans from the debate over health care reform.

"Health care spending is projected to be 17.6 percent of our GDP, which is nearly one-fifth of our economy, and a bill dealing with that is going to have to be bipartisan," said Bennett.

The House and Senate conferees struck an agreement on the budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions for health care, a measure that allows the majority party to pass legislation with just 51 votes.

Bennett said that such a provision to shut out Republicans and jam health care legislation through Congress in a partisan manner is not only a disservice to the American public, but it is not needed to reform health care.  In his speech on the floor, Bennett argued that the Healthy Americans Act is the only health care reform bill with bipartisan support and should be the starting point for the health care debate moving forward in Congress.

"With 12 cosponsors - a mixture of both Republicans and Democrats - it would seem to me that this would be the bill from which we begin our discussions in a truly bipartisan manner, and it would not require the straitjacket of reconciliation to make it possible for the majority to move ahead," added Bennett.  "The Healthy Americans Act is a place to start the conversation. We do not need the kind of enforcement of majority rights that reconciliation would give us. Let's understand right here in the beginning that that kind of activity is not required."

The Healthy Americans Act has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to be revenue neutral in the startup years and generate savings thereafter. The Lewin Group, an independent health care consulting firm has reported that implementing the Healthy Americans Act would save $1.2 trillion.

The House of Representatives passed the conference report on the Budget Resolution, which includes the reconciliation provisions for health care. The Senate is expected to vote on the Budget Resolution as early as today.

Click here for more information on the Bennett-Wyden Healthy Americans Act.