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McConnell says ACA too costly

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 12--Sen. Mitch McConnell visited Owensboro Health Regional Hospital for another in a series of his hospital town hall meetings Monday and to receive an award for his support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

McConnell reiterated that he's not a fan of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the health insurance package championed by President Barack Obama. McConnell said all Americans having health insurance would be a good thing, but the Democrats and Republicans differed on how to go about achieving that.

"I felt, and members of my party (Republicans), that passing a 2,700-page bill that was funded by $700 billion in Medicare reimbursement reductions, a tax on medical devices and a tax on health insurance premiums was not a good idea," McConnell said. "That trillion-dollar gift during implementation is a problem we're experiencing now on the provider side."

McConnell said it was "entirely predictable" that there would be "significant disruption in the health insurance market since the government would now tell, in effect, insurance companies what they could sell and what they couldn't ..."

"We thought there would be increased premiums and deductibles and job loss, and that has, in fact, occurred," he said. "The Congressional Budget Office, an analytical arm of Congress run by a former (Bill) Clinton staffer, said it cost about 2.5 million jobs with its implementation across the country."

McConnell said when all of the Affordable Care Act kicks in, there will still be 30 million uninsured Americans, or about 10 million fewer than the original 40 million before the act went into effect.

"So I question the cost-ration of doing all this to achieve that," he said.

McConnell said one alternative is the single-payer, or the European, model in which there are no insurance companies and the government is the single payer.

"But not all Europeans can get in (to see a physician)," the senator said. "There are long lines, and if you're too old, or too this or too that, you don't get covered at all, so it's a trade-off."? McConnell said his solution would've been to eliminate the "50 separate silos" in which health insurance is currently sold and create a national health insurance market so that consumers could buy a policy anywhere in the country.

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"Make it a totally competitive market," he said. "Think of Medicare Part D, the only federal government program in modern times that came in under budget because we pitted all the pharmaceutical companies against one another."

McConnell's two other solutions included setting a federal medical malpractice standard "to bring some sanity into the litigation," and to allow smaller businesses to band together into larger groups to "enjoy the purchasing power that comes along with bigness."

"Obamacare is the single-worst piece of legislation that's been passed in modern times," he said. "It looks like a piece of Swiss cheese with the president deciding that this group or that group gets a delay or carve-out. (The law) means what he thinks it means on a given day.

"He wouldn't be granting all these dispensations if he thought this was all working out well. His own actions underscore that it won't work, and things that don't work generally collapse in one way or another."

McConnell said that the Democrat-dominated Senate and Republican-dominated House could work together, but the Democrat leadership in the Senate doesn't let Republican-sponsored bills come up for a vote.

"It would be good for him to be challenged, but it never comes to that because the people in his party protect him," McConnell said.

McConnell noted that Owensboro's riverfront project "has worked out well."

"It's clearly transformed your city and I'm glad I had an opportunity to help with that," he said. "Fifty million dollars came from the federal government and the state kicked in some money as well. I'm happy about that."

McConnell also received an award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, led by the foundation's executive director, Mary Dossett.

"This is our opportunity to thank Sen. McConnell for all his tremendous support for JDRF," she said.

McConnell joked that it was "nice to hear somebody say something nice about me."

McConnell will return to the region Wednesday on his coal bus tour. He will be at Steve Geary's Body Shop, 201 Sycamore, in Hartford at 9 a.m. Then Sen. Rand Paul and McConnell will visit Ray Jones and Triple J Trucking, 3296 South State Route 181, in Greenville at 10:30 a.m.

Rich Suwanski, 270-691-7315, or rsuwanski@messenger-inquirer.com

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(c)2014 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

Visit the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) at www.messenger-inquirer.com

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