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Murkowski Slams New Health Care Law, Urges Repeal

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today again called on Congress to repeal the new health care law and replace it with reforms that will drive down premiums and allow Americans to exercise more control over their health benefits.

"This law is not what the American people wanted and it's not what our president promised," Murkowski said in a speech on the floor of the United States Senate. "I believe that the legislation has to be repealed and it's got to be replaced with sensible alternatives that are widely supported, such as the ability to buy insurance across state lines, implementing medical malpractice reform and reimbursing for quality of service and not quantity of services."

Since the health care law was enacted in March, according to Murkowski, a number of government reports have confirmed what Republicans who opposed the federal takeover of the health care system have feared all along - higher costs, less access and unsustainable spending.

Murkowski gave several examples:

·         In April, the President's own chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Rick Foster, released a report saying that the new law will actually increase national health care spending by $311 billion over the next 10 years. Foster's report also said that about 14 million people would lose their employer coverage by 2019, largely as a result of small employers terminating coverage and workers who currently have employer coverage enrolling in Medicaid.

·         In May, the neutral government score-keeper, the Congressional Budget Office, revised its initial cost estimate of the bill to say that the law will likely cost $115 billion more in discretionary spending over 10 years than the original cost projection.

·         Just this week the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the health care law's high risk insurance pools could end up costing up to three times more than what is budgeted for. CBO said that an additional $5 to $10 billion would be needed to fully fund all eligible enrollees in the high risk pool expansion. Despite assurances from the president that the high risk insurance pools in the new health care law would allow those with pre-existing conditions to have access to health insurance coverage, this has not turned out to be the case. According to the CBO, the high risk pool in the new law will provide coverage to only 200,000 individuals, a fraction of the estimated millions of people with pre-existing conditions.

Murkowski said that small businesses in America stand to lose most under the health care law.

"They were promised a pipe-dream, filled with tax credits to save small businesses money, but the bill has had just the opposite effect," Murkowski said, pointing to a recent Associated Press story that chronicled an Illinois furniture company owner who calculated that he would not qualify for a small business tax credit unless he cut his work force from 24 to 10 employees and slashed their wages.

"This Illinois employer's situation is no different than any other employer regardless of what state they are in," Murkowski said. "As a matter of fact, in states like Alaska and other high-cost localities, like New York City or San Francisco where wages are higher because of the cost of living, the employers stand to lose because they won't be eligible for these tax credits simply because they pay their employees higher wages than allowed for in the health care bill."

Murkowski said the health care law has put small businesses in peril of dropping employees to avoid a $2,000 per employee penalty called the employer mandate as well as reducing their wages to qualify for the small business tax credits.

"We've passed a bill that hurts small businesses during one of the worst economic downturns in the history of our nation," Murkowski said.

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