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Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss a new report on Senator Reid’s health care reform bill. This kind of fits in with an appropriation that deals with Health and Human Services that’s over two months past due.

Last night we received a new analysis of the Reid bill, performed by CMS Chief Actuary Rick Foster.  Mr. Foster serves as the independent technical advisor to the Administration and Congress on estimating the true costs of health care reform. This is the guy in charge of all of this. He is the chief actuary. This isn’t somebody outside of the system. This is the guy that’s going to have to answer to all of this. Mr. Foster serves as the independent technical advisor to the president and Congress on estimating the true costs of health care reform.

Some of the findings in this report directly contradict some of the claims we have heard this week about the Reid bill.

For a week now, we have heard how the Reid bill would help slow spending growth and reduce how much, we as a nation, spend on health care.  Mr. Foster’s analysis shows that statement is false. 

According to his report, National Health Expenditures will actually increase would by .7 percent over the next 10 years.   That’s .7% if we did nothing different. Despite promises that the bill would reduce health care spending growth, this report shows that Reid bill actually bends the health care cost curve upwards.

We have also heard over the past week how this bill will reduce health insurance premiums.  Again, the Administration’s own chief actuary says this is false.  The new report describes how the fees for drugs, devices, and insurance plans in the Reid bill will increase health insurance premiums, increasing national health expenditures by approximately $11 billion per year.

We have also heard how the Reid bill will reduce the deficit, extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund, and reduce beneficiary premiums.  Again, the Administration’s own chief actuary says this is false. The new report describes how the fees for drugs, devices and insurance plans in the Reid bill will increase health insurance premiums, increasing national health expenditures by approximately $11 billion per year. We’ve also heard how the Reid bill will reduce the deficit, extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund and reduce beneficiary premiums. According to the Foster report, these claims are all conditioned on the continued application of the productivity payment cuts in the bill, which the actuary found were unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis. 

If these cuts cannot be sustained, one of two things will happen.  Either this bill will dramatically increase the deficit, or beneficiaries will not be able to continue to see their current doctors and other health care providers.

In reviewing the $464 billion in Medicare cuts in the Reid bill, the Foster report found that these cuts could result in providers finding it difficult to remain profitable.  The report went on to note that absent legislative intervention, these providers might end their participation in the Medicare program.

In addition, if enacted the report found that the cuts would result in roughly 20 percent of all Part A providers (hospitals, nursing homes, etc) becoming unprofitable within the next 10 years as a result of these cuts. 

As a former small business owner myself, I understand the impact that this will have on doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.  In rural areas like my state, these providers will go out of business or refuse to take any more Medicare patients.

The CMS actuary noted that the Medicare cuts in the bill could jeopardize Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care.  He said that the Reid bill is especially likely to result in providers being unwilling to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients. 

The Reid bill also forces 18 million people into the Medicaid program.  The Foster report concluded that this will mean that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid services would be difficult to meet.

These are not the claims made by insurance companies or others with vested interests in the outcome of this debate.  These come directly from the Administration’s own independent actuary.

In light of this report, why are the sponsors of this bill continuing to argue for a $2.5 trillion dollar bill, which will increase health care spending, drive up premiums and threaten the health care of Medicare beneficiaries. 

We can do better.  We need to start over and develop a bipartisan bill that will address the real concerns of the American people.

Develop a bipartisan bill. It can’t just exclude one side because there is a Majority that won an election and gets to write the bills. We get tired of hearing that told to us. They say, “Where is your comparable bill?” We’re not trying to have a comparable bill. We’re trying to have some input into the current bill or into the current problems.
 
We ought to sit down, talk about the principles, find the actuarial principles, find the actual things that fin into those principles, develop the details and have a bill that goes step by step so that we get the confidence of the American people. And the step we ought to start with would be Medicare. That’s why I present this report from the actuary of Medicare, of CMS, which is part of Health and Human Services and is assigned most of the job of coming up with the details of the bill that we have before us. And that means that actual elected officials wouldn’t be doing it. But this actuary says everything that’s been done on this side of the aisle is false, unless there is some phony accounting going on.

I yield the floor.