Thanks very much for getting in touch with me and letting me know what's on your mind regarding health care reform.
Providing every American with genuine access to quality, affordable health care is one of my highest priorities as a member of the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, the health care bills we're debating right now flunk their most important test, which is cost. We need to be able to say to every Tennessean and every American that we have a plan that makes it possible to afford both your health care plan and your government. The Mayo Clinic, Governor Bredesen and other Democratic governors, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office have all said we're heading in the wrong direction. Instead, we should support legislation like the Wyden-Bennett bill that I've cosponsored, which has bipartisan support and would give every American a chance to afford a health care policy like those that senators and congressmen have - and we could do that without adding one penny to the deficit, and without adding a single new government program.
I was disappointed that the Kennedy health care bill that was debated by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) on which I serve was so flawed and expensive that it couldn't be fixed. On July 15, 2009, I voted against that bill in committee because it was the wrong first step on health care reform. It sets the stage for higher state taxes, more federal debt, government-run health care, and Medicare cuts - and still would leave many Americans uninsured. Expanding Medicaid eligibility as envisioned under the Kennedy bill would bankrupt the states at a time when states can least afford it. In Tennessee, it would require a new state income tax of about 10 percent to pay for the increased cost - as well as adding another half trillion dollars to the national debt.
Health care reform is one of the biggest issues facing our nation today. In place of what's been an overly partisan process so far, we need to move forward in a bipartisan way that includes ideas from both sides of the aisle. We need to work together to make sure that people aren't disqualified from getting health coverage because of preexisting conditions, that everyone is covered, and all Americans have access to health care at a cost their family's budget can afford. At the same time, I am resolute in my determination not to add trillions more to the national debt and not to dump new debt on the states.
I appreciate your taking the time to let me know where you stand, and I'll be sure to consider your comments as health care is discussed and debated in Washington and in Tennessee.
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