Murkowski Comments on Committee Vote on Democrats' Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today voted against a Democrat health care reform bill that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) on a party line vote. Sen. Murkowski issued the following statement:
“When the HELP Committee began debating the Democrats’ health care reform bill four weeks ago, I agreed with the President and said that the legislation needed to meet several objectives -- reduce costs while providing affordable, comprehensive medical coverage that ensures continuous access to nurses, doctors, medical health services, and does not interfere with the ability of individuals to continue choosing the health care provider of their choice. Unfortunately, the bill that passed the HELP Committee today fails to meet those goals.
“There is much to criticize in this bill, but perhaps the biggest flaw is the staggering cost, which has ranged from $600 billion to well over $1 trillion, leaving as many as 34 million without coverage. Incredibly, advocates of a government-run public plan that would compete with private insurers are proposing cutting Medicare and taxing small businesses to pay for the bill.
“The legislation actually creates a disincentive for any business to expand beyond 25 employees. For example, a small business in Alaska with 50 employees would face a minimum of $19,500 per year in new taxes if an owner doesn’t provide health insurance for all employees. As the national unemployment rate nears 10 percent, and with the national debt topping $1 trillion this year for the first time ever, clearly this is the last thing we should be doing to the small business community, which creates seven out of every 10 new jobs in America. In Alaska, 96 percent of the jobs are with small businesses. We need to be helping our small businesses rather than burdening them with additional federal taxes that will prevent new workers from being hired.
“In Alaska, our biggest health care challenge is Medicare access to primary care. Yet this bill would only further exacerbate the lack of access to primary care by setting rates in a government plan that are likely to be at or even below Medicare rates. This will not work for Alaska where Medicare seniors and the disabled have witnessed the harsh realities of limited access to primary care providers.  With Medicare set to become insolvent in less than 10 years, it is folly to build a new government-run health care plan on such a crumbling foundation.”
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