U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today on the Senate floor that the Senate should start from scratch on health care legislation because the Kennedy bill is “so flawed and expensive it cannot be fixed.
“This bill is so expensive it will literally bankrupt states. Just the expansion of Medicaid in the bill could cost Tennessee $1.2 billion a year by 2015, according to the state Medicaid director. This is about the amount of money a new 10 percent state income would raise,” said Alexander, a former governor of Tennessee who serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “The Congressional Budget Office has said that the parts of the Kennedy bill we know about will add $1 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. Yet, this bill will leave 30 of the 47 million Americans who are uninsured today uninsured, and it will expand one failing government program – Medicaid – and create another, putting Washington between you and your doctor.
“This bill, I’m sorry to say, is absolutely not a bipartisan bill,” Alexander continued. “A bipartisan bill is when 15 or 20 senators from different sides of the aisle sit around a table and start from scratch and take the best ideas and put them together. Instead, we were presented with a bill last Thursday and told, ‘This is how it is.’ We need to start over.
“Republicans have offered health care plans that would give low-income Americans the same opportunities and choices that most Americans already have—plans that wouldn’t make it harder for American businesses to compete in the world marketplace by adding to their costs, plans that our grandchildren can afford that wouldn’t heap trillions of dollars of new debt upon them, devaluing their dollars and the quality of their lives.
Alexander added, “As the president has said, the best way to do health care reform is in a bipartisan way. But in order to do that, we need to put aside the Kennedy bill and start over again.”