Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said the new public option compromise crafted by Senate Democrats is not “relevant” to the central purpose of the bill.
McConnell, asked to react to the compromise at a press conference, said Republicans still strongly object to other provisions in the healthcare reform bill.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s relevant to the core of the measure,” he said. “The core of the measure is a job-killing bill even if they change something around the edges.”
He continued “What isn’t going to change in this 2,000 page bill is half a trillion dollars in Medicare costs, $400 billion in new taxes, [and] higher insurance premiums for everyone else. That’s not going to change.”
The minority leader said that the compromise was a deal struck “Behind closed doors trying to get to 60 votes.”
The deal, struck late Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and nine other Senate Democrats, appears to involve the creation of a national health insurance plan provided by private nonprofits and established by the Office of Personnel Management.
The federal government would also allow people over the age of 55 to buy into Medicare. Currently, only people over 65 are eligible for the program.
Reid and other Senate Democrats have not provided the details of the plan.
McConnell and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) both objected to the Medicare extension, saying it would create greater financial instability for the health insurance program for seniors.
“The last thing you want to think about when the Titanic is sinking [is to] put grandma and more of your family on the boat,” Grassley said.
Liberal Democrats argue, however, allowing more people to buy into Medicare would provide it with more revenue.