Alexander to Health Secretary: “We Need to Know the Cost and Details of Health Care Plan Before We Act on It”

Presses Sec. Sebelius on President Obama’s Desire for Pay-go and the Upcoming Health Care Bill

Posted on June 10, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies that Congress should have a more comprehensive analysis of the current health care bill before Congress acts on it. “The Kennedy bill could cost nearly $2 trillion. That is a sizable investment and it may be only the beginning of what is needed,” Alexander said. “So it is important to know the details and costs of the proposal before we vote and act on it, especially if we are to show respect to the president’s desire for pay-go and not adding to the deficit.” “Pay-go,” or the pay-as-you-go rule, would require that new spending or tax changes not add to the federal deficit (i.e., that spending be offset by increased taxes). Alexander then asked Secretary Sebelius whether the president and the administration supported the Kennedy proposal for “a government-run health care option.” The Health Secretary replied that Alexander “would have to ask the president” and that she has “not seen the specific language” yet. “I want to establish the principle that it’s a good idea to read, understand and know the cost of a proposal before we are asked to decide on it,” Alexander added.