Knoxville News Sentinel: Alexander: Health care bill a costly, 'historic' mistake

Posted on March 23, 2010

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander termed Sunday's late-night U.S. House vote to push forward universal health care a "historic mistake" that will burden Tennessee and other states with higher costs and lead to higher taxes.

"It's going to mean Medicare cuts, and for the state it's going to transfer huge new costs to the state for expansion of TennCare," Alexander told reporters after addressing a forum at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center on "Research and the Public Good" on the University of Tennessee campus.

The Senate still must act to reconcile a related companion bill.

Debate on the fix-it bill in the Senate could begin as early as Tuesday. Senate Democrats hope to approve it unchanged and send it directly to Obama, though Republicans intend to attempt parliamentary objections that could change the bill and require it to go back to the House.

"We're expanding a health care delivery system that we already know is too expensive instead of reducing its cost so that more people can afford to buy health insurance," Alexander said.

The senator, a former Tennessee governor, said Republicans have offered alternatives to reform health care but that President Obama and Democrats have chosen to make their own way.

"I'm sure there are provisions in the bill that are good - I mean it's a 2,700-page bill and there's bound to be something good in it - but all of the good in the bill and the efforts to reduce costs and the efforts to have insurance reforms ... are overwhelmed by the premium increases, the tax increase, the Medicare cuts and the transfer of expenses of state governments..." Alexander said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More details as they develop online and in Tuesday's News Sentinel.