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Murkowski Comments on Senate Finance Committee Health Care Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, issued the following statement on the Senate Finance Committee release of a new health care proposal on Sept. 16.

"While I commend Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus for working on a bipartisan basis with three Republican committee members to craft meaningful legislation, the Baucus proposal  released today falls far short of that goal because it lacks any Republican support. Today's outcome didn't result from a fallout in discussions, or from any member walking away from the table; rather, it was the result of yet another arbitrary deadline that closed the door on discussions in order to push a Democratic health care bill through the United States Senate.

Although I have not yet had a chance to read the entire proposal, my initial impression is that it's still too costly at $900 billion; additionally, it would be paid for through cuts to the Medicare program and tax increases. Furthermore, the proposal does nothing to address the annual uncertainty of whether doctors will face a significant cut in their Medicare reimbursements. The proposal also doesn't address an issue raised by my constituents during several health care town hall meetings I held in Alaska in August: The need for medical malpractice reform and stopping the practice of defensive medicine which costs between $100 billion and $178 billion per year, according to studies by Stanford University and the Pacific Research Institute.  The proposal only includes a non-binding Sense of the Senate resolution suggesting that we should address medical liability reform.

While I will be paying close attention as the Finance Committee considers amendments to the proposal, which at this point is still just a concept and not legislation, my suggestion would be to take a step-by-step approach, focusing on issues that we all can agree on. These would include doing-away with pre-existing condition restrictions, eliminating yearly and lifetime insurance limits and seeking to reduce costs by reimbursing for quality and not quantity of services.



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