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Murkowski Comments on Democrats’ Senate Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Nov. 19 made the following comments regarding the health care bill unveiled this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

"The health care bill unveiled this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is deeply disappointing and in many ways is even worse than the Senate Finance Committee-passed proposal. Not only would the new bill, like the Finance measure, raise taxes, cut Medicare and boost health insurance premiums, but it would also create a new federally run health insurance program and increase payroll taxes.

"First and foremost, the American people have said, and both parties have agreed, that health care reform must reduce health care costs. But this bill doesn't do that. In fact, it's laden with budgetary gimmicks that would massively increase the size and reach of government and send federal spending into the stratosphere.

"Proponents peg the cost at $849 billion over 10 years, but they reach that figure only through sleight-of-hand accounting. While many of the tax increases and Medicare cuts would go into effect shortly after enactment, Americans would not see most of the benefits until 2014. So an honest 10-year cost estimate - beginning in 2014 -- would be $2.5 trillion, not $849 billion.

"The bill also would cut Medicare spending by nearly a half trillion dollars. I don't believe that we can cut the Medicare program - which already is projected to be insolvent in eight years -- by that amount without severely affecting the quality of care and making it even more difficult for Alaskans to see a health provider.

"The bill also raises taxes by $493 billion, and includes a new Medicare payroll tax - an unprecedented and dangerous step that would use Medicare money for non-Medicare services.

"As we move toward floor debate, I would suggest that we scrap this 2,074-page bill that affects one-sixth of our economy and take a step-by-step approach, focusing on those reforms that already draw strong bipartisan support. Those would include requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, mandating that they lift annual and lifetime maximum payouts on health care benefits and preventing insurance companies from canceling a policy when a patient gets sick. And to reduce premium costs, which this bill doesn't do, we should implement policies to reduce frivolous and unnecessary lawsuits against our doctors and health care providers.

"At a town hall meeting on health care that I held last week in Chugiak, the one thing that  constituents repeated was don't pass a bill that raises taxes, increases insurance premiums and cuts Medicare. We should listen to the American people."

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