U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today made the following remarks on the Senate floor about the Senate Democratic health care bill, which he voted against moving toward passage:
“Every other word we hear from the other side is that this vote tonight is ‘historic.’ I agree: it’s historic, but my view of why it’s historic is a little different than theirs. This bill is historic in its arrogance – arrogance that we in Congress are wise enough to take this complex health system that is 16 percent of our economy and serves 300 million Americans and think we can write a 2,000-page bill and change it all – all at once.
“It’s arrogant to dump 15 million low-income Americans into a medical ghetto called Medicaid that none of us or any of our families would ever want to join. It’s arrogant to send to the states, which are going broke, a big chunk of the bill. It’s arrogant to tell the American people that the bill will only cost $849 billion and think they’re not smart enough to read it and figure out that it will actually cost $2.5 trillion when it’s fully implemented. It’s arrogant to say paying for the physicians’ reimbursement is not an important part of a health care bill — even as they run over here in the dead of night and run up the deficit with a separate quarter-trillion-dollar bill to fix that. It’s arrogant to cut and tax Grandma’s Medicare, which is going broke, and then spend it on somebody else. It’s arrogant to tell us that it’s going to reduce premiums for most Americans when, in fact, it increases premiums for most Americans.
“What we are doing is scaring the daylights out of Americans.
“So, where is the Republican health care plan, some ask. Well, if you’re waiting for Senator McConnell to roll a wheelbarrow in here with another 2,000-page, budget-busting, debt-ridden, arrogant piece of legislation, you’ll wait a long time.
“We don’t believe in 2,000-page, trillion-dollar Washington takeovers filled with surprises, taxes, mandates, and more debt. We believe in setting a clear goal, going step-by-step in the right direction to re-earn the trust of the American people, and that goal should be reducing costs.”
Alexander said Senate Republicans have long called for passing targeted legislation that will decrease the cost of health care and expand access for American families – without the unintended consequences presented by 2,000-page bills. Alexander outlined “the first six steps” Republicans have proposed and believe Congress can pass in a bipartisan fashion:
• Reduce junk lawsuits against doctors,
• Combat waste, fraud, and abuse,
• Allow small businesses to pool resources to purchase health insurance,
• Purchasing health insurance across state lines to increase competition,
• Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and
• Wellness and prevention.