CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Tennessee Senator Bob Corker released a statement Saturday on the health care reform vote in the Senate, which sends the bill to the floor for debate saying:
"Like most Americans, I want to see responsible health care reform, but paying for it by sending an unfunded mandate to states, taking money from Medicare – which is already insolvent – to fund a new federal entitlement, and passing off costs to future generations does not pass the common sense test," said Corker. "This 2,074 page plan is taking the health care debate and our country in exactly the wrong direction. We're literally spending our future away.
"The bill expands Medicaid and sends the $25 billion cost to states, a huge unfunded mandate that creates a very painful situation for Tennessee and other states.
"It takes $464 billion away from Medicare, which is predicted to be insolvent by 2017, and leverages it to create a new entitlement program rather than using it to make Medicare more solvent. I honestly don't know how Congress has moved from broad, bipartisan concern over Medicare's $38 trillion in unfunded liabilities — liabilities that threaten our country's financial stability — to now embracing a proposal that uses Medicare cuts to leverage a new program.
"I think most Americans wanted to see health care reform that lowers costs, but this bill actually bends the federal cost-curve UP. The independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the coverage expansion would drive a net increase in government spending on health care by $160 billion over 10 years.
"The bill also uses dishonest budget gimmickry. First, it uses 10 years of new taxes to finance six years of spending, resulting in huge deficits in the next decades. Second, much has been made about the fact that CBO scored the bill as reducing the deficit by $130 billion over the years 2010-2019, but CBO also notes two budget gimmicks that hide the true cost of the bill. Under the bill, physicians who treat Medicare patients are expected to get a 23 percent cut in their reimbursement pay in the year 2011, which would carry into subsequent years. Preventing that pay cut, which Congress has consistently done, would cost $247 billion. Additionally, the new government-run long-term care insurance program called ‘CLASS Act' would reduce deficits by $72 billion in the 10 year budget window, but would begin to increase budget deficits in the decade following 2029, according to CBO. Eliminating these two gimmicks means the bill would be $189 billion in the red and puts the real cost of the bill at over a trillion dollars.
"If Republicans had put forth a bill that had the exact same building blocks – a bill that took $464 billion out of Medicare to leverage another program and created a $25 billion unfunded mandate by making states raise their Medicaid levels – there would not be a single Democratic vote for the bill. I am puzzled why my colleagues would even consider voting for this, especially anyone who has concerns about our country's fiscal condition."
"The tragedy of all this is that if this bill passes, our country will be missing a major opportunity for true health care reform."
-Senator Bob Corker