Floor and Committee Statements

Sunday, December 20, 2009 -

Colloquy on Health Care Reform

Sunday, December 20, 2009

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Colloquy on Health Care Reform
Remarks as Delivered on the Senate Floor

Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask my colleagues to comment on some of the other broken promises. The President made a solemn pledge that he would sign a universal health care bill. This bill, as I understand it, still leaves 15 million people without insurance coverage. He says the costs will be cut by up to $2,500 a year. The reality is the average premiums would increase by $2,100.

I ask perhaps our distinguished colleagues from South Carolina and Georgia to comment on the promises that the President has made with regard to transparency, the promises he has made with regard to premiums going down rather than up, the promises he has made with regard to Medicare--promises it appears this bill will not allow him to keep.

Mr. GRAHAM. Everything the 2008 campaign was about has basically been discredited and discarded in this whole health care debate. I thought it was change we could believe in. I thought there was going to be a new way of doing business in Washington, and God knows there needs to be. I thought we were going to negotiate the health care bill on C-SPAN and everybody would have a seat at the table, including the drug companies. I thought we were going to allow reimportation of prescription drugs to allow American consumers to purchase drugs dramatically cheaper.

Not only have we not had any negotiations on C-SPAN, you couldn't find the room where the negotiations were going on. The old way of doing business looks good compared to this process. There was a negotiation going on on the biggest proposal we will probably ever vote on, one-sixth of the economy, between two people: the Senate majority leader and the Senator from Nebraska.

The second in command on the Democratic side told Senator McCain: I am just as in the dark as you are. We have gone to a promise of being on C-SPAN to everybody was in the dark. I don't know how that plays. I hope it plays poorly because at the end of the day, what we are doing here is absolutely unconscionable. When you thought it couldn't get any worse in Washington, when you thought your government had reached a low point, well, it has gotten worse. I will be talking about the 60th vote here soon, how they got that 60th vote. And if that is OK with the American people, which I do not believe it will be, if that is OK with our body, then our best days are behind us as a country.

Mr. CORNYN. May I ask the Senator from South Carolina about this other promise? Does he recall the President saying in July of 2009, if you like what you have, you can keep it? Is the Senator aware of the fact that according to the Congressional Budget Office, between 8 and 9 million people who would have been covered by employment-based plans under the current law would not have an offer of such coverage under this bill if passed, and seniors, because of the cuts to Medicare, particularly Medicare Advantage, will actually have their benefits cut? How do you reconcile those promises with what we see in this monstrosity of a bill?

Mr. GRAHAM. They cannot be reconciled. I hope American seniors are paying attention. We are going to take $470 billion out of Medicare in the next decade and use that money to create new government programs. If you are senior citizens out there, the doctors and hospitals you go to--and it is hard to find Medicare doctors right now; a lot of doctors are reluctant to take Medicare patients because the reimbursement rates are so low. Rural hospitals are on their knees because the Medicare rates are so low. Take $470 billion out of the system and see what happens to the provider community.

What does it mean to seniors? It means your chance of finding the doctor or hospital to take care of you as a Medicare patient is going down, not up. What does it mean to Medicare? It is due to go bankrupt by 2017. By taking money out of the system, not reforming Medicare, but using it as another purpose has accelerated the problems of Medicare. Not only has that promise been broken, we have done something no other Congress has ever done to Medicare--take money out of it and give it to somebody else. That is not right. We were within inches of expanding Medicare to people from 55 to 64 which would put the system at risk.

My point is simply this. We started this debate as a way to reform health care, and a lot of us agree on many things. It wound up being what does the Democratic Party need to do to pass a bill. Nobody cares what is in this bill anymore. All the objections about the CLASS Act and about fiscal responsibility and about the public options being in or out have given way to get this thing done before Christmas.

This is not about health care reform. It is about one political party feeling as though they have to pass a bill no matter what is in it. And that is sad.

Mr. CORNYN. I wonder if my colleagues will comment. I have one last chart I want to share with them and anybody who might be watching on this Sunday afternoon shortly before Christmas.

Every public opinion poll I have seen says the American people do not want us to pass this bill. So one has to wonder: All of us have to run for election in our States. Obviously, to win an election, you have to get a majority of voters. But 56 percent of U.S. voters in the country say they do not want this bill to pass. And yet this thing seems as though it is on an unstoppable path toward passage because 60 Senators, apparently defying the will of their constituents, seem determined to pass the bill.

Can my colleagues explain to me what they think is going on here?

Mr. CHAMBLISS. I think it is obvious it is pure arrogance on the part of the folks on the other side of the aisle. The American people do not want it, but they are saying Washington knows better than the people back home know. That is pretty clear.

I know my colleague from Georgia is like me, when we go back home, we get stopped in the airport, in the grocery store, on the streets, all around different parts of Georgia. People are not happy about what is going on up here with respect to this bill. I wish to ask him about his comments with respect to where we are.

Mr. ISAKSON. Like the Senators from Texas and South Carolina and my senior Senator from Georgia, we all represent the people who vote for us. And in reference to Senator Cornyn's question about popularity, about the way people feel about this legislation, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record two letters--one from the Medical Association of Georgia and one from a consolidated group of medical associations representing 92,000 physicians.

I want to tell my colleagues what these letters say. The first one is to me from Gary Richter, the president of the Medical Association of Georgia. He writes in great detail about the difficulties and problems they have with this legislation, beginning with the stonewall against tort reform by only putting in a demonstration project.

The Senator from Texas is aware of what tort reform can do because his State has made a great improvement in medical malpractice costs because of tort reform, and we in Georgia have tried to experience the same type of thing.

There are many other reasons in here as well. The interesting thing about the letter from the 92,000 physicians represented by their medical associations is they talk not only about what is in the bill but what is not in the bill. I want to read, if I may, one paragraph to demonstrate that point:

Our concerns about this legislation also extend to what is not in the bill. The right to privately contract is a touchstone of American freedom and liberty. Patients should have the right to choose their doctor and enter into agreements for the fees for those services without penalty. Current Medicare patients are denied that right. By guaranteeing all patients the right to privately contract with their physicians, without penalty, patients will have greater access to physicians and the government will have budget certainty. Nothing in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act addresses these fundamental tenets, which we believe are essential components of real health system reform.

That is a pretty strong statement from 92,000 American physicians about this particular piece of legislation.

To follow up on the point made by the distinguished Senator from South Carolina, I have a vested interest. I just got my Medicare card. December 1 I became Medicare eligible. When you talk about cutting $470 billion, it gets personal. It gets personal with all those other seniors.

Think about this. Seniors in America have paid their entire lives, at least since 1966 when it was created, They have paid a tax and their employers have paid a payroll tax to go into a trust fund to pay for their health care after they are 65 years old.

We are now basically saying, I say to the Senator from South Carolina, we are taking $470 billion of the tax money you have paid over years of work and we are going to put it in a plan to pay for somebody else's health care. That is basically what it does, and that is patently wrong.

One other thing I want to mention that is critical to me. We are all professionals at what we do. We all argue from our point of view. I understand that and respect that. But something was said earlier today which draws me to have a flashback to make the point about how much we tried on this side to contribute to improvements in health care and better access for all.

The very distinguished majority whip said he talked with realtors and that three in four realtors were uninsured and this would help. The reason they are uninsured is they are not able to form risk groups together associated and affiliated as a like practice. Because of the IRS Code, which this does not amend, a company's employer, who has independent contractors working for them, cannot by law provide them with medical insurance.

In 2006 on the floor of the Senate, 57 Republicans and Democrats offered and voted for the associated health care bill or the small business access to health reform--57 out of 100. We needed 60 like this bill needs to get to cloture. That bill would have allowed associated professions to join together, compete for insurance nationwide, form risk pools that are large enough to mediate and ameliorate high rates and have a more competitive rate.

He was correct in his statement that three in four do not have health insurance. I was in that business. I know. The reason they do not is because they have to buy on the spot market because they cannot have a group plan. When they buy on the spot market, we are talking about $1,500, $1,800, $2,000 a month, which is unaffordable and unsustainable. But this bill does nothing to address that situation which is one of the largest holes in the uninsured problem.

In fact, when you see the estimates, those who are still left uninsured, a great many of them are going to end up being just those kinds of people--- independent contractors that the tax laws prohibit from associating and affiliating with others.

And I was proud to be part of that 57, along with the other three distinguished Senators on the floor and a number of Democrats.

There have been lots of efforts made by people on both sides to get us better access and affordable health care. But, unfortunately, they have been blocked all over this philosophic argument of whether health care is going to be government provided or competitive in the private sector. Unfortunately, the ship of state is moving toward the government provision with this legislation, which is one of the reasons I oppose it.

I turn it back to the distinguished senior Senator from Georgia.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. I rise to pose a question to the Senator, and I would ask my colleagues to comment with respect to their States.

The Senator served in the State legislature for many years, and is very familiar with our SCHIP program, which is called PeachCare, and he is also familiar with the rising Medicaid costs that we have seen in our State. What this bill does, in seeking to reach out, as I understand, is to expand the eligibility for Medicaid. We are all for Medicare, but this raises the eligibility level for Medicaid from 100 percent of the poverty level to 150 percent of the poverty level. That will have a huge impact on every single State that is now going through very difficult financial times.

We in Georgia have had a $3 billion shortfall this past year that had to be plugged. I saw the other day in the press where we have almost another $2 billion our legislature is going to have to deal with next month in reducing services around our State. Every State is having that same experience. Yet what this bill does is to put a mandate on States to increase the amount of money that States put into Medicaid. I know the Senator is very familiar with that, and I would ask him to comment.

Mr. ISAKSON. I appreciate the Senator bringing it up. It is what is known in the trade as an unfunded mandate, but I will put some meat on that bone.

This year the State of Georgia had a budget of about $17 billion, and the Medicaid portion--just the Medicaid portion in Georgia--was over $2 billion. So it is approaching, or getting close to, 16, 17, or 18 percent of the entire budget. If this bill passes raising the eligibility from 100 percent to 150 percent, then in 2017--which is the trigger date on this Medicaid provision--Georgia would go from $2.15 billion to over $3 1/4 billion in its share of Medicaid, and this at a time of declining revenues and greater pressure. That is a recipe for disaster.

Our State, like 43 other States in the United States, can't borrow money. We have to have a balanced budget. If the Federal Government mandates that we spend $3 billion, we have to cut it out of someplace else in our State, such as education or our prisons or the park system or somewhere else.

But it is ironic that Senator Chambliss asked me that question because this morning, as I was preparing to come over, I had the television on, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, was being interviewed. He endorsed this provision originally, but he raised the question that the provisions in this amendment will raise by $3 billion the cost of Medicaid, just in the State of California--a State that had a $60 billion shortfall last year, and next year, he estimates, will have a $20 billion shortfall. If we continue in Washington to mandate funding and don't put our money behind it, we are pushing our States to the brink of bankruptcy, where a number of them already are. It is not fair to say we are covering more people when we are bankrupting our States. We are not covering anybody if we are pushing the cost off on someone else.

So I appreciate the senior Senator from Georgia raising that point, and I associate myself with Governor Schwarzenegger and his remarks this morning about urging us not to force unfunded mandates on our States.

The Senator from Texas.

Mr. CORNYN. If I can respond to the senior and junior Senators from Georgia on this point, my State population is 24 million. Over a 10-year period of time, this is a $20 billion unfunded mandate--$20 billion. Of course, we know--or at least we read and hear from some in the press--that not all States are going to be treated the same. That was, in fact, an inducement on the part of some Senators to vote for the bill--to be one of the 60 votes--because they were either going to get a sweetener, in terms of being held harmless for at least a portion of that, or in the case of Nebraska, I guess all of it.

That strikes me as fundamentally unfair, but it also demonstrates the flaw in the way this bill has been negotiated. In order to try to get to the 60 votes, there has basically been a pay-to-play sort of approach to this, and it is just repulsive to me, frankly. Certainly, a lot of my constituents would wonder: What kind of games are going on there?

I know the Senator from South Carolina has some thoughts about that.

Mr. GRAHAM. Well, this started out as a noble effort to reform health care because it needs reforming. The inflationary cost of the government is unsustainable. Medicare and Medicaid, as the Senators from Georgia indicated, are becoming huge problems that are unsustainable. Medicare is $36 trillion underfunded.

Now, what does that mean? It means that over the next 75 years, there is a $36 trillion shortfall of money to pay the benefits that have been promised, and that has to be dealt with.

What we are doing to Medicare makes the problem worse, not better. Medicaid is the largest expense in my State. It is a matching program. So listen to this--if you are out there on a Sunday with nothing else to do but listen to me. If you don't live in Nebraska, here is what is coming your way. Your State will be required to cover more people under Medicaid because the eligibility goes up to 133 percent above poverty, which is an increase over the current system. So throughout the Nation, there are going to be thousands more people enrolled in Medicaid, and every State, except one, is going to have to come up with matching money.

I have 12 percent unemployment in South Carolina. My State is on its knees. I have a 31-percent African American population in South Carolina. Yet how did the majority get the 60th vote on this bill? It was the weekend before Christmas, and they were one vote short--here is what they did to get that one vote. They had a deal cooked up that no one knew about but the two people talking. There was no input from anybody other than the majority leader and the Senator from Nebraska. After that meeting was over, they came up with a 380-page amendment to a 2,000-page bill. They filed it yesterday, and we made them read it. We heard it for the first time yesterday. Then the majority leader filled up the tree so that there is no ability by any Republican or Democrat to amend their work product.

This is a transparent new way of doing business: you cook up a deal in a back room--that is essentially sleazy, in my view--to allow one State, in order to get that vote, be held harmless for Medicare enrollees, and the rest of us have to go home and hear our constituents say: Why can't you in South Carolina and Georgia get that deal? What kind of Senator are you?

Well, I will tell you; this is the kind of Senators we are. We are not going to do that. We are not going to put the whole Nation at risk and take a broken system and make it worse just to get a vote. No way in hell.

On abortion, you are either for it or against it or you are indifferent. You can be whatever you are on abortion and be just as good an American as I am. I am pro-life and proud of it. Most of us in America, whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, don't want our Federal taxpayer dollars to be used to pay for abortions. For 32 years, the Hyde amendment has been the law of the land, preventing taxpayer dollars to be used for abortion. In this health care reform, guess what. That is exactly what is going to happen. There is a brave Democrat in the Congress--Bart Stupak, from a blue State--who stood up to his Democratic leadership and said: I will not vote for a bill that allows Federal taxpayer dollars in the form of subsidies to be used to fund abortion because I find that morally offensive, and I think most Americans agree with me. He brought the House to its knees, saying: You will not pass this bill to use federally funded Federal dollars to fund abortion.

What did he get out of it? Nothing. Not one thing for Wisconsin. He got out of that deal the pride of knowing that he stood up for the unborn.

So the bill comes to the Senate, and Senator Nelson from Nebraska tries to introduce the Stupak language that would be an absolute bar from using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. He lost that amendment. He said he could not vote for a bill that would allow taxpayer dollars to be used to fund abortion. But then he gets in a room with Senator Reid, and he comes up with a compromise and he claims it solves the problem. The problem is, his claim is not accepted by all those who follow this. The compromise he has achieved on abortion is a miserable failure.

Congressman Stupak says it is unacceptable. The National Right to Life Committee says it is unacceptable. The Nebraska Right to Life Committee says it is unacceptable. The Council of Catholic Bishops says it is unacceptable. There is not one pro-life group in this country that believes Senator Nelson has protected the rights of the unborn. So how, in good conscience, do you vote for a bill when that was the big issue?

At the end of the day--one last thought--this bill would make an Enron accountant blush. They are talking about how it lowers the deficit by $132 billion. But they do not tell you that the $247 billion doctor fix is not in the bill. What am I saying? Over the next 10 years, doctors, under the 1997 balanced budget agreement, will have $247 billion taken out of their practices unless Congress acts.

Since 1997, Congress, every year, has stepped to the plate and forgiven that cut, which is double digits. Everybody knows we are going to do that. But when it came to health care reform, they left out the doctor fix because if you include it, it no longer is revenue neutral. It no longer does what they say.

They say this bill cuts the deficit by $132 billion, but if you include the $247 billion, it runs up the deficit in the first 10 years, and in the second 10 years it adds $2 trillion to the deficit.

Long story short, this is what Enron did. People went to jail for doing this in the private sector. They took the liabilities of the company and they hid them, making their balance sheet look better than it actually was. So when you hear this reduces the deficit by $132 billion, they took out a liability that they know we are going to fund, just to cook the books.

If this is going to be OK for the country, then we have no hope as a Nation of ever solving any hard problem. And I would like to say to my colleagues: I know you want to be home. I know everybody on the other side wants to be home. I know you want to find ways to solve hard problems. Troops in Afghanistan want to be home, too. At least they are away from home for a noble purpose. We are here trying to stop a legislative process that, if it becomes legitimate--if this becomes the OK way of doing business, giving one Senator a deal you will not give anybody else and putting the whole country at risk just to get one vote--then I hope the American people will rise up in righteous indignation and throw us all out because nobody should be representing the country this way.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. The Senator from South Carolina raises the point about this bill being revenue neutral and it actually decreases the deficit. How do they achieve that? They achieve that through some truly Enron accounting, as the Senator from South Carolina just said. But here is what happens: There is a certain amount of money that is projected by CBO to be generated in insurance premiums being paid by young individuals across this country under what is called the CLASS Act. The CLASS Act is a new health care-generated program, a new entitlement program that is included in this bill that is going to provide long-term care benefits for young, healthy Americans who, ultimately, are going to become invalid and need that long-term care.

Well, the fallacy in the numbers game that is being played is that CBO is saying it is true there will be a projection that we are going to save--the projection they are using says we are going to generate premiums from these young people who are not going to be entitled to the benefits under this bill for 20, 30, 40 years from now. But even CBO recognizes that when these benefits begin being paid out, there is going to be an entitlement created that is going to blow the budget of this particular new program all the way out the top.

In fact, the chairman of the Budget Committee, a Democrat from North Dakota whom I admire and respect so much, has even said this particular provision in this bill is a Ponzi scheme. It is something Bernie Madoff would love. Yet here they are with straight faces on the other side of the aisle coming in and saying we are really going to reduce the deficit by passing this provision called the CLASS Act. It is beyond me how anybody, with a straight face, can say that is actually a fact.

Mr. ISAKSON. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. CHAMBLISS. Absolutely.

Mr. ISAKSON. Isn't it true that is what is wrong with Social Security today? We have spent it for years and years rather than putting it in a trust fund, and now the baby boomers are going: The money is not there? Isn't that the same thing?

Mr. CHAMBLISS. The Senator is exactly right, and exactly the same situation with Medicare.

Mr. ISAKSON. Just a question on a followup on the fiscal part the Senator from South Carolina brought up. It is also still true that the taxes on this bill begin in 11 days--January 1, 2010--but the benefits begin on January 1, 2014, and in that score of the first 10 years of cost, you have years of program that are not costing anything while you are raising revenues. So it is a ruse and a masking of the actual fiscal effect on the United States of America.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. The only way Senator Reid could get the score that he kept going back and forth with the Congressional Budget Office on was to make sure the taxes started immediately. And they will. He has increased taxes by $26 billion to come up with a proposal that he says is revenue neutral. That is an additional $26 billion. So it makes it a total of $518.5 billion in new taxes that are going to be paid by hard-working, tax-paying Americans, and no benefits under this bill are going to start accruing until the year 2014.

Mr. CORNYN. Will my friend yield for a question?

Mr. CHAMBLISS. Absolutely.

Mr. CORNYN. I ask the senior Senator from Georgia, does he remember this statement by President Obama? He said he will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future, period. Yet David Broder, perhaps one of the most respected journalists here in Washington, DC, who has been around a long time, said he has talked to all the experts and everybody he has talked to said these bills as they stand are ``budget-busters.'' Of course, I am sure the Senator also remembers a Washington Post-ABC poll that said 66 percent of those who responded to the poll think this bill will make the deficit worse, not better.

In other words, we have a credibility problem between what is being promised here by the President and presumably by the proponents of this bill and the American people because they simply do not buy it. They do not believe it. Maybe that is why that earlier number from the Rasmussen poll said a majority of Americans do not want us to pass this bill but, rather, want us to start over and take a step-by-step or incremental approach.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. There is just no question but that the American people understand this. They get it. When we talk about cutting Medicare by $450 billion, do they really not think the quality of care under Medicare is going to be diminished? Of course it is. Do the American people really think we are not going to have an increase in the deficit when we are going to have almost a trillion-dollar bill in real, live dollars that is going to be passed by this body in the next couple of days, in all probability? Surely the American people get that. They know this is going to increase the cost of health care and it is going to increase the deficit. That is why they are opposed to this.

Mr. GRAHAM. Will the Senator yield for another question?


Mr. GRAHAM. Let's talk about the CLASS Act a little bit more. It is a new program that doesn't exist today where the Federal Government, as I understand it, will be offering long-term health care insurance to the American people. It is a voluntary program at first, just like everything else around here. Guess who is going to sign up. It is called adverse selection. The sickest people in the country are going to sign up.

Under the bill as it is written, it is just like what Senator Isakson said about the underlying bill. You collect taxes for 10 years; you pay out benefits for 6. That is the way you get the money to make the numbers come out right.

Guess what happens in this CLASS Act, the new program no one has heard much about. You start collecting premiums in 2011, but you don't pay any benefits until 2016. Guess what happens. That generates $73 billion of money to be used to say to the American people that this bill is paid for. But when you ask the CBO about what happens after 2016, they say that by 2029, I think it is, the whole thing falls apart because the only people in the program are the sickest folks because it is a voluntary program, and at the end of the day, you have created a new entitlement, and everybody in this body is going to be rushing to subsidize premiums and get more people into this system. It will be another entitlement that grows, and CBO says it will be a death blow to our fiscal soundness.

I ask the Senator from Georgia, when Senator Conrad, whom we all respect, said this is a giant Ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of, do you think that is what he meant? You collect premiums and you make it look as if you have money you really do not have and you put off paying out benefits. And at the end of the day, would the Senator agree with me--I have a letter from October 23, 2009, from Senators Conrad, Landrieu, Lincoln, Warner, Lieberman, Bayh, and Nelson to the majority leader saying: Please take the CLASS Act out of the bill.

Would the Senator agree that the CLASS Act is still in the bill and that anybody who votes to send this off to the President to become law has become a coconspirator to the giant Ponzi scheme?

Mr. CHAMBLISS. I don't think there is any question about that. The Senator is exactly right. It is what we in Washington call fuzzy math--utilization of money from one pocket to pay for something on the other side. At the end of the day, it just does not add up. The Senator from North Dakota was exactly right, it is a huge Ponzi scheme.

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the letter dated October 23, 2009, just referenced by the Senator from South Carolina.

Mr. CORNYN. I am wondering if the Senator would yield for a question since we have a unanimous consent for a colloquy.

The Senator was talking about this a little earlier, but one of the things that has not been adequately discussed and because of the way this bill has been railroaded and we have been denied an opportunity to offer amendments and we will be voting on the bill on Christmas Eve, as it is currently scheduled, I want to ask about the impact on businesses. You were in the real estate business and employed a number of people in your company. You had to meet a payroll and make sure you ended up in the black and not in the red.

One of the things the National Federation of Independent Business said was that this bill will actually increase health care costs for businesses and the cost of doing business. I can't imagine anything worse that we could be doing during a recession, during a time when unemployment is at 10 percent, than making it more expensive to do business and thus keep people on your payroll. Won't that be the impact of this, with higher taxes, with increased health care costs going to employers, that it is actually going to make the unemployment problem worse rather than better?

Mr. ISAKSON. I think the Senator from Texas is exactly right. I will be the first to tell you, I am in the process of reading the 400-some-odd page managers' amendment. I haven't read all of it yet. It does take out the public option, which, by the way, that was originally in. It still may reappear at some date in the future. That was a real killer. That raised tremendous costs. In fact, it made it more beneficial for a company not to provide insurance and pay the fine and put people in the government option. That is not in the bill now, I understand that.

But let me tell you what is in the bill. What is in the bill are a number of taxes on small businesses that produce medical devices and medical treatments. You know as well as I do that when the government raises your taxes, you have to raise your price to the consumer. What does that mean? It is not lowering the cost of health care. It is, through the tax mechanism, raising the cost of health care, either to the insurance company that is in the exchange or to Medicaid or to Medicare or to the individual person in terms of their copayments.

You cannot hide the fact that when you are raising those types of revenues--$514 billion; $50 billion a year over 10 years--that money is going to ultimately be paid by the consumer of health care. It may be paid by the company on its tax return, but it is a pass-through cost that they are going to pass through to their consumer, which in turn is going to put more pressure on whoever insures that consumer, if, in fact, they are insured. So anytime the government raises taxes, it raises the cost of living for the American people. That is just a common, well-known fact. The Senator is exactly correct.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. We have talked a little bit about the negotiations that took place behind closed doors over the last few days. It is unfortunate that we have gotten to the point in this body and on this particular piece of legislation where the issue of abortion has injected itself into meaningful and affordable health care reform measures. But that is, in fact, what has happened. Similar to my friend from South Carolina, I am pro-life. We all are. I am very proud to be and have a strong voting record on that. The law of the land for well over 30 years has been that no Federal funds should be used to fund abortions. It makes no difference whether you are in one part of the country or the other; that is the law. That is the way it ought to be. It ought not to be changed.

We have had any number of votes on abortion issues over the years. In every instance, we have failed to pass a law that would provide for the use of Federal funds for abortions. That is changing. Irrespective of what the Senator from Nebraska thinks he negotiated, that has changed.

I have three letters I will include for the Record. One is pretty interesting because it is from a group of African-American ministers in my home State. This group is headed by Bishop Wellington Boone. He wrote me a letter yesterday. Here is part of what he says:

We cannot emphasize enough that abortion is not health care.

He is absolutely right.

There is also a letter from Cindy O'Keary, executive director of the HOPE Center in Woodstock, GA, who is appalled at the discussions and the fact that we now are going to be using Federal money to fund abortions, and also a letter from Sadie Fields, State chairman of the Georgia Christian Alliance, imploring us not to pass any kind of bill that sets the precedent of providing Federal funds for the use of abortion.

I ask unanimous consent to have all three letters printed in the Record.

Madam President, in closing, let me say, the Senator from South Carolina said it strongly and he is right: We have reached a new day in this body. We have had deals cut behind closed doors that are going to provide benefits for individual Senators and their States--whether Vermont, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Florida, or wherever--and that are going to require those of us who didn't have the opportunity to participate in the discussions and negotiations on this bill to represent to our citizens that they are going to have to pay more for services than everybody all across America gets. There is nothing right about that. There is nothing fair about it.

I daresay, I have some relatives who live in Nebraska. They have to be embarrassed and ashamed about this. They are going to be getting a huge benefit simply because the Democrats needed 60 votes to pass the health care bill.

Mr. GRAHAM. One last thought, if I may. The Senator mentioned the people in Nebraska. I know there are good, hard-working people all over the country, particularly in Nebraska. A lot has been said about Nebraska. I hope the people in Nebraska will be heard. This is not over. They may get 60 votes in the next couple days, but this is not over. We are going into the fourth quarter, and the most valuable player on our team is the American people. Speak up, speak out. If you don't like what is going on, if you don't like the phony baloney accounting, if you are upset about your taxpayer dollars being used to fund abortions, speak up. If you think there is a better way of doing business, let us know about it. There is a long way to go. It has to go back to the House. The House has a say. One Senator indicated the House better take it or leave it. That is not good government. That is not the way it works. Three of us have been in the House. I want you to know this is far from over. Public opinion matters to us all. To the American people who are concerned about this being a done deal, it is not. You can change the outcome. I hope you will get involved. At the end of the day, it is your country we are talking about.