Mar 20 2010

Bad Medicine

by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint

As the Democrats have become more and more desperate to pass their health care bill into law at any cost, their approval ratings have sunk to record lows.

Americans know their government takeover of the health care system is bad and the tactics they're using to do it are even worse. It raises costs, lowers the quality of care in our country, shifts a new unfunded mandate onto the states, and will result in health care rationing.

This is the wrong kind of medicine to heal our health care system and we're determined to do our part to stop it. All 41 Republican senators have pledged to stop any "fixes" from being added to the bill if the Democratic House chooses to make it law.

The only reason Senate Democrats passed this bill on a party-line vote last Christmas Eve is because a slew of backroom deals were made to buy up last minute votes.

A number of Senators were given special handouts to help convince them to vote for a bill that will cost Americans trillions. The bill completely exempts one state, Nebraska, from paying for expanded Medicaid coverage, a requirement imposed on the other 49 states. In the state of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield will be exempted from paying certain taxes. In the state of Florida, seniors who enjoy the benefits of participating in Medicare Advantage will be protected from losing that coverage, a benefit not provided to seniors in other states.

South Carolinians shouldn't be on the hook to pay for these favors designed to benefit people in other states.

Democrats say some of these deals will be taken out during reconciliation, when "fixes" are added after their bill becomes law. Anyone who believes that will be done is naïve. After they have succeeded in making the bill the law of the land, there will be little incentive for any of them to remove these special bargains.

There are many other reasons to oppose this bill, aside from the unsavory deals made to secure its passage. In both its scope and reach, the Obama and Democratic health care plan is unprecedented. It raises $644 billion in taxes and cuts $525 billion from Medicare. Their bill contains accounting gimmicks - double counting of dollars, calculations of taxes before benefits kick in and other shell games -- that would make Bernie Madoff's accountant blush.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that savings generated from Medicare will not be reinvested in the program, but rather will be used to pay for new programs putting even more strain on the long-term viability of Medicare.

There is no guarantee this bill will lower health care costs for consumers. What is sure is that 80 percent of Americans will find themselves in some form of government-run, government-controlled health care. We believe the remaining 20 percent will soon be asked, if not required, to follow.
Some provisions of this law will strike a crippling blow to our state's already strained budget picture. The Medicaid rolls in South Carolina - one of the largest expenditures in our state budget - will increase by over 60 percent under this legislation. In the near future, one in three South Carolina citizens will be dependent on Medicaid. Over the next decade, Medicaid spending is expected to cost $21.6 billion, more than three times as much as we will spend on law enforcement.

President Obama's health care plan will add even more people to the Medicaid program even though there have been many news reports in recent weeks of medical providers and prescription drug retailers refusing to accept Medicaid customers. Government-provided insurance doesn't do those who carry it much good if a doctor won't see them or a pharmacist won't provide their medicine.

Over the past year we have both traveled throughout South Carolina meeting with patients, doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers. We agree there are problems with our health care system and we are ready to work together to find solutions to control health care costs, expand private sector coverage, and increase choice for patients.

Our approach is at odds with what the Democrats plan does. They've adopted a hard-line ideological approach and are pushing a plan that will put us one giant step closer to the single-payer government run health care system they have long desired.

President Obama has instructed the Democrats that passing this bill is key to preserving their party's power and they are willing to defy the will of the American people to keep that power. This is no way to govern.

Time is growing short and House Democrats are rounding up their votes. If you have not made your voice heard, now is the time. Because, without a doubt, this health care bill is bad medicine. And, Americans don't have to take it.