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Great Falls Connection Column: National Health Care Bill Threatens State Budget
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Column: National Health Care Bill Threatens State Budget

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I want to share a letter that I recently coordinated with a majority of members of the Virginia House of Delegates (56). It was sent to our Virginia Congressional delegation and details our opposition to the national health care bill and how it would harm our state budget. This bill is expected to be voted on in Congress later this week. 


Dear Virginia Congressional Delegation:

We write to let you know of our views on the health care bill pending before Congress. We join the American people in opposing this latest trillion dollar health care proposal on policy grounds as well as the procedural approach being considered.

This bill, with its 10 years of tax increases (approximately half a trillion dollars) and 10 years of Medicare cuts (another half a trillion dollars) only pays for six years of spending! The Senate Budget Committee chairman, Kent Conrad, said that this is a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud. Madoff financing schemes certainly are not the Virginia way. The real cost of the bill — which is estimated at $2.3 trillion — is simply unsustainable for strapped state budgets, families, and businesses. We can do far better for much less. That is why we are writing to urge that this plan be scrapped entirely in favor of a truly bipartisan approach that addresses the problems step by step.

Over the past year, the American people and our fellow Virginians have spoken loud and clear. They want us to start over and work on a plan that lowers the cost of health care without expanding the role of government, and without raising taxes or cutting Medicare. Virginians do not want us to foist the increased costs on our state budget with unfunded mandates and in turn overwhelm states with skyrocketing Medicaid costs that will crowd out any future spending for K-12 education, higher education, roads and bridges, and other state priority needs.

We fear that many in Washington are not listening to our citizens, our state legislators or our Governor. We are in the process of completing very difficult state budget negotiations in Virginia. We have had to cut over $4 billion to balance our budget. But these cuts would pale in comparison to the kind of cuts we would have to implement if this health care bill were to be passed and place new job killing taxes on our families and businesses at just the wrong time.

Medicare, right now, has a $38 trillion unfunded liability. Nationally, Medicaid is growing at 21 percent each year, suffocating states' budgets and adding trillions in obligations that we have no possible way to pay for — particularly with the job killing taxes on families and small businesses also embedded in the bill.

There are bipartisan ideas that could form the basis of the kind of step-by-step reform Americans really want and reforms that we in the states could add to and build upon to expand access while getting overall costs under control.

Virginians don't want a one-party bill forced through an illegitimate process with backroom deals. Our fellow Virginians are already appalled about "the Cornhusker Kickback" and "the Louisiana Purchase." But using the reconciliation process now to jam this health care plan through would be the worst outrage of all. Using reconciliation to fundamentally change the health care of every American and one-sixth of the economy would be one of the biggest power grabs in legislative history.

In the past, bills that impact huge numbers of our citizens and one-sixth of our economy have been passed by working together and gaining majorities on areas we can agree on. Medicare and Medicaid were created with the support of about half the members of the minority party. The Voting Rights Act passed with 30 Republican and 47 Democrat votes. Only six senators voted against the Social Security Act. Only eight voted against No Child Left Behind or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Only 12 members voted against the Welfare Reform Act. (And we would note that the Welfare Reform Act came after many states provided excellent experiments and demonstrations of how to reform our welfare system. And the national Welfare Reform Act was not a one size fits all bill, such as this health care bill, but instead it continued to allow for creative state initiatives.)

The choice for the Virginia delegation is clear. Vote with Virginians against this bill.

You can also view this letter online at http://www.delegatecomstock.com/blog/read.aspx?id=108

By Barbara Comstock

State Del (R-34)

http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=338784&paper=65&cat=110








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