Alexander Says Congress “Finding Best Way to Go in the Wrong Direction” on Health Care

Says Health Care Plans Have “Too Many Problems,” Suggests Starting Over

Posted on July 28, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, said the two health care reform plans now before Congress “are good-faith efforts to find the best way to go in the wrong direction” and suggested that Congress would “have to start over to get it right.” “People at home in Tennessee, the Mayo Clinic, 1,000 local chambers of commerce, the Congressional Budget Office, the Democratic governors—they all basically say, ‘Let’s get it right. This has too many problems,’” he continued. Senator Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and member of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, said Democratic plans are “looking at the idea of dumping—and I use that word carefully—dumping another 20 million low-income Americans into a failed program called Medicaid, even though right now 40 percent of doctors won’t see Medicaid patients. They call that ‘health reform.’ Then they’re going to shift the cost to the states after about five years. The governors are appalled by this plan. Even the Congressional Budget Office says we’re going in the wrong direction.” Alexander said the two major plans before Congress flunk seven tests: “the first test, which is reducing costs,” and second, that “it cuts grandma’s Medicare and spends it on another program.” Third, “it would pass big, new Medicaid costs onto the states, causing big increases in state taxes; fourth, despite what the president has said, millions would lose their employer-provided insurance; fifth, millions more Americans would find themselves in government-run programs; sixth, during a recession, we would impose new taxes and new fines on employers in order to encourage more health care.” And finally, “with these government programs, you’re more likely to wait in line and you’re more likely to have your health care rationed.” Alexander concluded his remarks by saying Congress should instead consider the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett plan, saying it “makes more common sense. That plan would take the subsidies which we now spend on health care and spend them in a fairer way, giving low-income Americans a chance to buy health care like the rest of us have. And it wouldn’t create any new government programs.”