By Jordan Fabian - 11/21/09 11:00 AM EST
On the day of the Senate’s first vote on healthcare reform legislation,
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) used the GOP’s weekly address to urge people
to read the 2,074-page bill before forming an opinion.
“Read the bill” has become a Republican rallying cry throughout the healthcare debate. Several GOP lawmakers have picked through previous versions of the bill, finding passages and provisions to which they object. House Republicans even set up a healthcare reading room before the lower chamber voted on its bill two weeks ago.
Crapo also reiterated plenty of Republican objections to the healthcare bill before encouraging Americans to read it. He said that the bill will increase federal spending, drive up healthcare costs, cut Medicare benefits and engender an intrusive government intervention into people’s healthcare plans.
“This is not true healthcare reform, and it is not what the American people want. This bill will result in higher premiums and higher healthcare costs for Americans – period,” he said.
Crapo’s words reflect the unanimous Republican sentiment against this weekend’s vote. Senate Republicans are all expected to vote against the motion to proceed that has been scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Observers are looking on the vote with suspense; Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) have not yet said whether or not they will vote for the measure that needs 60 votes to pass. Without any Republican support, Senate Democrats would need the backing of all 60 members of their caucus to move the debate forward.
GOPers have keyed in on the cost of the bill that they say is too high throughout the debate.
This week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s healthcare bill would spend $849 billion over 10 years to cover 31 million uninsured and reduce the federal budget deficit by $127 billion in 10 years. Reid (D-Nev.) touted the score as a positive sign ahead of the vote.
But Republicans have said that bill would cost $2.4 trillion if fully implemented.
“When you take away the budget gimmicks used in the early years of the implementation that make the total cost look smaller, the truth is glaring and the Congressional Budget Office agrees: This plan will increase federal spending and health costs, not lower them,” Crapo said.
The bill also mandates that states provide Medicaid coverage to 15 million more people. States would receive full federal funding for the expansion for the first three years and after that would receive around 80 percent of the funding from the government.
But Republicans say the provision is an “unfunded mandate” that is unfair to individual states.
“In addition to forcing the neediest of the uninsured into a failing entitlement program, this expansion will result in $25 billion in unfunded Medicaid mandates on the states, which are already struggling financially,” he said. “This mandate further jeopardizes state budgets as it forces them to drive up spending.”
Instead, Crapo proposed that Congress pass “step-by-step” reforms favored by Republicans such as creating an interstate insurance market, reform tax treatments of insurance companies and eliminating pre-existing conditions limitations.
“These are the kinds of reform that make sense and would really make a difference for all Americans,” he concluded.