Alexander Says Baucus Health Care Bill Cost Estimate Is “Too Good to Be True”

Posted on October 8, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following remarks on the floor of the Senate: • “A few years after I was governor of Tennessee—it must have been the early ‘90s—I was driving along in Nashville minding my own business and I had the radio on. The announcer basically said, ‘Big news. The Tennessee legislature has passed a new law creating a Medicaid program called TennCare. It’s going to cover twice as many people for the same amount of money.’ Everyone was happy about that. Nobody had to raise taxes; nobody had to raise any more money; twice as many people got health care. And I remember what went through my mind was, ‘I bet that doesn’t happen. That sounds too good to be true.’ Well, the same idea went through my mind when I picked up the paper this morning and read that the Senate Finance Committee had finished its work and that its health care bill would cover 29 million more Americans. It’s going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars more, and it’s going to reduce the federal deficit all at once. What went through my mind was, again, ‘That sounds too good to be true. It sounds like the Tennessee TennCare story.’” • “Our first goal is reducing costs, which is why the Republican plan for health care is to take several commonsense steps in the right direction, reducing costs, that will get us where we want to go. And we have said those on the floor time after time after time. They include allowing small businesses to pool their resources so that they can offer insurance to more of their employees. They include taking steps to stop junk lawsuits against doctors. These lawsuits are driving up malpractice premiums and forcing pregnant women from rural Tennessee counties to drive all the way to Memphis to see a doctor because doctors won’t practice in rural areas anymore because of the high cost of medical malpractice premiums. These premiums drive up the cost of health care for everyone.” • “We know it’s going to cost about twice as much as the $800 billion advertised because it doesn’t take effect for a few years. The taxes start right away, but the benefits don’t start for a few years.” • “If we’ll take the time to read the bill and find out what it costs, we’ll find it really doesn’t reduce the deficit. But even if it did, it’s going to cost $1.6 trillion or $1.8 trillion, and who is going to pay for it? Half of it is going to come from cuts in Medicare.” # # #