Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman: “We Need to Pass Health Reform”

Senator joins fellow freshman Democratic senators in back-to-back speeches on cost of inaction

September 23, 2009

Watch a video of Sen. Kaufman's remarks on the Senate floor

WASHINGTON, DC - Controlling skyrocketing health care costs is the major reason health care reform must be passed this year, Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) said in a speech today. Sen. Kaufman joined nine of his fellow freshman Democratic senators on the Senate floor this morning to decry the cost of inaction that threatens to bankrupt the country and American families.
 
"We need to pass health reform because failure to do so could bankrupt this country," said Sen. Kaufman. "If we do nothing to start bending the cost curve down for Medicare and Medicaid we will eventually spend more on these two programs than all other federal programs combined."
 
"Today, bankruptcies involving medical bills account for more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, a rate one and a half times that of just six years ago," Sen. Kaufman continued. "We need to pass health reform to give Americans more stability in these rough economic times, so they no longer have to choose between paying their medical bills or paying their home mortgage or their children's tuition payments."
 
Full remarks:

I join my freshman colleagues this morning to discuss our nation's health care system and to urge Congress to pass reform legislation this year.
 
I think there are two major reasons why we need to enact health reform this year. And they both require controlling health care costs.
 
First, we need to pass health reform because failure to do so could bankrupt this country.
 
Just look at Medicare and Medicaid.
 
One of the biggest driving forces behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare, as well as Medicaid.  In 1966, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for only 1 percent of all Government expenditures; they now account for 20 percent.
 
If we do nothing to start bending the cost curve down for Medicare and Medicaid we will eventually spend more on these two programs than all other federal programs combined.
 
Medicare spending is growing rapidly for the same reasons that private health spending is growing rapidly - increases in the cost and utilization of medical care. Between 1970 and 2007, Medicare spending for each enrollee rose by an average of 8.5 percent annually, while private health insurance increased by 9.7 percent per person per year.
 
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid was approximately 4 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product in 2008. And if we fail to act, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will rise to 7 percent of GDP by 2025.
 
We must bend these cost curves down and slow the level of growth in the Medicare and Medicaid programs if we are to ever get our budget situation under control.
 
Second, we need to pass health reform this year because failure to do so will drive more and more Americans into personal bankruptcy.
 
Today, bankruptcies involving medical bills account for more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, a rate one and a half times that of just six years ago.  
 
And keep in mind that more than 75 percent of families entering bankruptcy because of health care costs actually have health insurance.
 
Again, two-thirds of all Americans filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills already have insurance!
 
These are middle-class Americans who are well educated and own their homes. They just can't keep up with the alarming rise in costs associated with medical care.
 
We have to act so that Americans no longer have to worry about how they are going to afford their medical bills.
 
We need to pass health reform to give Americans more stability in these rough economic times, so they no longer have to choose between paying their medical bills or paying their home mortgage or their children's tuition payments.
 
Mr. President, controlling health care costs is the major reason we need to pass health reform this year.
  

###

Print this Page E-mail this Page