Says Democrats Turned Debate into 'Let's Make a Deal' to Win Votes
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today attacked the latest version of the Democrats’ terribly flawed, 2,733-page health care bill that will raise taxes, raise premiums, cut benefits for seniors and place a massive unfunded mandate on the states.
The Senate is expected to vote at 1 a.m. on Monday to end debate on Democratic Leader Harry Reid's “manager’s amendment” to the health care legislation. Isakson will vote against the motion to end debate. Once fully implemented in 2014, the proposal would cost an estimated $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Monday's vote is expected to be the first of several votes leading up to a final vote on health care reform in the Senate on Christmas Eve.
“Democrats cannot hide the fact that when you're raising the type of revenues in this bill, that money is ultimately going to be paid by the consumer. Any time government raises taxes it raises the cost of living for the American people,” Isakson said. “It's a ruse and a masking of the actual fiscal effect on the United States of America. This has not been a thoughtful process, and it is an unfortunate way to do business.”
The legislation includes $518.5 billion in tax increases and over $470 billion in Medicare cuts for seniors, including $120 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. Isakson opposes creating new programs with these Medicare “savings” rather than making a commitment to preserve and improve Medicare and prevent its impending 2017 bankruptcy.
“We're going to take $470 billion from Medicare, and we are going to put it in a plan to pay for somebody else's health care,” Isakson said. “That's patently wrong.”
Isakson also criticized the lack of transparency as the legislation was drafted and the backroom deals that Democratic Leader Reid, D-Nev., made with certain Senate Democrats in order to secure their votes on his health care proposal.
For example, Georgia and most states will face billions of dollars in massive unfunded mandates to cover the cost of the proposed expansion of Medicaid contained in the bill. However, in order to win the vote of Senator Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Reid inserted a provision in the bill that says the federal government would cover the cost of all new Medicaid beneficiaries in Nebraska, saving that state tens of millions of dollars.
“In a time of declining revenues and greater pressure, that is a recipe for disaster,” Isakson said. “It's not fair to say we're covering more people if we are bankrupting our states.”
In addition, to appease Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Reid agreed to insert a provision that says Medicare Advantage plans in Florida would receive an additional payment in order to preserve current levels of benefits. As a result, seniors in Florida would not be subject to the significant cuts facing Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Georgia and other states.
“This bill dissolved into a game of ‘Let's Make a Deal,’” Isakson said.
Despite the $2.5 trillion cost, an estimated 23 million Americans would still be left without health insurance.