Newest GOP senator not backing health proposals promoted by Senate Dems

The Senate's newest Republican member made clear Saturday that he would not support the health reform proposals before him in the Republican weekly radio address.

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) said that the health proposals in the Senate would weigh down states' budgets and would be harmful to the U.S. economy.

"Right now, Senate Democrats and White House officials are behind closed doors crafting their final healthcare overhaul proposal," LeMieux said. "While the Democrats in Congress have not yet provided the actual language of their proposed law, we do know enough for Americans to be concerned."

LeMieux was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) in early September by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is running for Senate in 2010. While Crist has posed as more of a centrist, having supported the president's stimulus package and other priorities, LeMieux blasted the healthcare reform proposals closely aligned with President Barack Obama.

The newly minted senator said the proposals before Congress would drive up the deficit and diminish choices for consumers, echoing the long-made concerns of his Republican colleagues in the Senate.

He said that the health proposals would place an undue burden on states' budgets, many of which would have to assume some costs of the new health plans, while abiding by state constitutions mandating a balanced budget.

“Unlike the federal government, our states have to balance their budgets, and they can’t print more money to pay for programs they can’t afford," LeMieux said. “Piling on additional obligations would mean even more severe cuts to roads, schools, law enforcement and other essential state services."

The Florida Republican reiterated GOP talking points on portability for plans, and diminishing medical malpractice lawsuits.

“President Obama has said he wants a budget-neutral, bipartisan bill. Republicans welcome that effort," he said. “As we prepare to debate the plan in the United States Senate, I remain hopeful we can reach consensus on a proposal that will reduce costs and increase access to healthcare for those who are uninsured, while protecting the quality of care for all Americans."