‘This Is Not A Public Option; This Is A Public Ultimatum’
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. blasted the health care reform proposal introduced this week by Senate Democrats, saying it will raise taxes, cut Medicare services to seniors and force billions of dollars in massive unfunded mandates on states.
A vote on a procedural motion to begin debate on the health care reform proposal in the Senate is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday night. Isakson will vote against this procedural motion.
“The unintended consequences of this legislation are disastrous to small business, and will drive people to a public option where there is no option at all,” Isakson said on the Senate floor. “This is not a public option; this is a public ultimatum.”
After several weeks of drafting the bill behind closed doors, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., unveiled a 2,074-page bill on Nov. 18 that would push millions of Americans into government-run health care. Once fully implemented in 2014, the proposal would cost an estimated $2.5 trillion over 10 years.
The legislation also includes $493.6 billion in tax increases and $464.6 billion in Medicare cuts for seniors. In addition, the bill would impose $28 billion in new taxes on employers who do not provide government-approved health plans. Isakson believes these new taxes would ultimately result in reduced wages and lost jobs.
Despite the $2.5 trillion cost, an estimated 24 million Americans would still be left without health insurance and 5 million people would lose their employer coverage under the Democrats’ proposal.
“We’re going to throw out the 85 percent that works to fix the 15 percent that doesn’t,” Isakson said.
At a time when most states are already under tremendous budgetary stress due to the economy, Isakson criticized the billions of dollars in massive unfunded mandates that states would have to pay to cover the cost of the proposed expansion of Medicaid, which would allow individuals who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for full Medicaid benefits. Currently, Medicaid is available only to those who earn up to 100 percent of the poverty level, meaning that the Democrats’ plan represents a 33 percent increase in Medicaid.
On July 15, Isakson voted against the health care reform legislation that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on a 13 to 10 vote. Reid’s bill contains some elements of the Senate HELP bill as well as elements of a separate bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee and some new elements that were not in either committee’s bill.
Isakson is a co-sponsor of S.1099, Patients' Choice Act of 2009, which seeks to strengthen the relationship between the patient and the doctor by using choice and competition, rather than rationing and restrictions, to contain costs and ensure affordable health care for all Americans.