Lipinski Explains His Health Care Vote (April 27, 2010)

Riverside Brookfield Landmark
April 27, 2010
By U.S. Congressman Dan Lipinski

My decision to vote against the Senate health care bill was the result of months of careful study and analysis, and of listening closely to my constituents.

As I have said many times, I strongly believe reform is needed to lower soaring health care costs and make insurance coverage more affordable and accessible. But while the Senate bill does include some positive reforms, it was seriously flawed.

It does not do enough to lower the skyrocketing cost of health care, cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, is fiscally unsustainable, breaks with the status quo by providing federal funding for abortion and rewards drug companies and other special interests.

Just last week, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that the bill's cuts to Medicare could result in a significant number of health care providers becoming unprofitable, thereby jeopardizing seniors' access to care. In the final analysis, I could not support such a deeply flawed bill.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to improve our health care system. Last November, after helping to make numerous improvements to the House health care bill, I voted to move the measure forward, believing that it was possible to fix its flaws before a final vote.

But I made my position very clear, stating: "If this bill does not improve when it comes back from the Senate, I will vote against it."

Unfortunately, the Senate bill was worse than the House legislation.

Though health care costs have nearly doubled in the last decade, the Senate bill does little to control costs. As the Congressional Budget Office has stated, the bill would do little to affect premium costs for those whose insurance is through a large employer.

Since 70 percent of Americans not on Medicare are in this group, the bill fails to sufficiently reduce costs for the majority of working families in the Third District. And while it purports to be fully funded, a closer look shows that the bill achieves this appearance by dubious means, such as diverting revenues from Social Security and other programs that should be self-sustaining, including the newly created CLASS Act.

The CBO counts as deficit reduction over $70 billion in premiums that will be paid into this program. Even if these premiums were properly kept in a trust fund, the CLASS Act itself will add significantly to the deficit after 20 years.

Finally, of great concern to me and many 3rd District residents, the Senate bill changes longstanding policy and provides federal funding for abortion. Efforts to address this issue through an executive order were insufficient, as the order only addresses a portion of the abortion funding, likely would not survive a court challenge, and could be repealed at any time.

While deeply disappointed that Congress did not develop a better bill, I will continue fighting against special interests and for improvements to our health care system that benefit all of the residents of the 3rd District.


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