U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) released the following weekly Republican address. The address is available in both audio and video format and is embargoed until 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, August 29, 2009.
Full transcript of Senator Enzi’s address:
“Hello, I’m Mike Enzi, from the State of Wyoming and the Ranking Member of the Senate’s Health Committee.
“Before I begin my remarks I want to acknowledge the loss of a great leader this week – one who’s influenced policy for almost half a century. Senator Ted Kennedy has been a tireless champion on a wide range of important issues and his voice will be missed in the Senate. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time.
“I would now like to take a few minutes to speak with you about the current health care reform debate in America. Across the country, people are concerned about the reform bills Democrats have proposed. I heard a lot of frustration and anger as I traveled across my home state this last few weeks. I know my colleagues in the Senate have also heard loud and clear the worries so many Americans have about the changes to their health care being considered.
“People in Wyoming and across the country are anxious about what Washington has in mind.
“This is big.
“This is personal.
“This is one of the most important debates of our lifetime.
“If Congress and the administration mess this up, each and every one of us will pay for the mistakes, as will generations to come.
“We need health care reform – but more importantly, we need to get it right. We need reforms that will actually lower health care costs for working Americans and we need to make sure we do not increase the deficit and add to the record debt we’re already passing on to our children and grandchildren.
“The bills introduced by Congressional Democrats fail to meet these standards.
“According to the non-partisan and independent Congressional Budget Office, the House and Senate bills will actually drive up heath care costs. The Congressional Budget Office also says that the Democrats’ bill will significantly increase our nation’s deficit.
“Take a minute to think about that.
“The Democrats are trying to rush a bill through the process that will actually make our nation’s finances sicker without saving you money. The American people are growing increasingly concerned about out of control spending in Washington that’s leaving us with trillions of dollars of debt.
“These bills also raid Medicare. This will result in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs. Savings from Medicare should only be used to strengthen Medicare.
“The bills would expand comparative effectiveness research that would be used to limit or deny care based on age or disability of patients. Republican amendments in the HELP Committee would have protected Americans by prohibiting the rationing of their health care. The Democrats showed their true intent by voting every amendment down and leaving these unacceptable provisions in the bill. This intrusion of a Washington bureaucrat in the relationship between a doctor and a patient is not the kind of reform that Americans are seeking.
“People across America are telling Congress that current health care bills are the wrong approach and that there should be a course correction on health care reform. They’ve said we need to scrap these flawed bills and take the time to develop the real solutions that the American people want and need.
“We need to enact common sense reform that will actually cut costs.
“More and better choices of competing health plans should be available, so you can find the plan that meets your needs at a price you can afford.
“It’s important that we help small businesses provide affordable coverage for their workers. One way to do this is to give small businesses the power to band together across the country and use their combined negotiating power to find quality, affordable insurance plans.
“We should also reform our current tax system, which drives up costs and makes it difficult for individuals to purchase insurance on their own. Everyone should get a health care tax advantage or no one should.
“We need to reform our flawed medical liability system and eliminate junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. Unnecessary lawsuits cause extra costs and drive up health care costs.
“We need to incentivize healthy lifestyle and push for a greater awareness of the importance of prevention rather than increasing sick care.
“And, we need to provide patients with more and better information about the price and quality of their health care services, so they can make the right choices for their families.
“America is a country of choices. We’re a nation of people who want the ability to choose what will best fit our families’ needs and it should be that way with health care too. These are the kinds of health care reforms that the American people want to see, and that’s the kind of change I hear that people want as I travel across Wyoming. A government monopoly just doesn’t serve us best.
“I hope the President and the Democratic-controlled Congress will reject the go-it-alone path that they are currently on. If they do, we’ll have a chance to truly work on a real bill that will address those critical issues. Then we can bring about the reform necessary to decrease health care costs and increase access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans.