GOP Governors Blast Health Care Takeover

Republican governors have released statements outlining their concerns with the federal government’s takeover of the entire health care system – a massive shift in policy which will blow wide holes in state budgets, kill jobs, drive up costs, increase taxes and restrict freedom of Americans’ medical choices.

Some Republican governors and candidates for governors are also exploring legal avenues to preserve health care freedom.  Last week, Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed legislation requiring his state’s attorney general to challenge the federal law in court.  In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell will sign Wednesday the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act which says no individual shall be held liable if they refuse to sign up for health care insurance.

In addition, the Attorneys General from at least ten states are expected to file a lawsuit opposing the health care legislation. Participating Attorneys General are expected to include Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, all candidates for governor.

RGA Chairman Haley Barbour (MS):
“I hope this healthcare plan covers hearing aids, because it’s clear Democrats who voted for it have not heard the majority of Americans who didn’t want government-controlled healthcare crammed down their throats. States cannot sustain another massive unfunded mandate, senior citizens are threatened by enormous cuts to Medicare, and American taxpayers and businesses can’t afford huge tax increases in the midst of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression.

“It’s truly sad that Rep. Bart Stupak sold out Pro-Life ideals by settling on an executive order that purports to make sure no federal funds in this healthcare plan are used to pay for abortions. Stupak and his on-the-fence colleagues have entrusted the lives of the unborn to the man who, as a senator, had a record of voting with the National Abortion Rights Action League 100 percent of the time. Nothing prevents President Obama from rescinding that executive order at any time, and it’s questionable whether it even has any true legal effect. Congressman Gene Taylor, D-Miss., told Fox News today that ‘anything the President does by Executive Order he can undo by Executive Order.”

RGA Vice Chairman Tim Pawlenty (MN): “Democrats rejected needed, common sense reforms in favor of an overreaching, extraordinarily expensive, government-centric plan that gives more and more control to an already bloated and bankrupt federal government.”

Governor Charlie Crist (FL): “It is disappointing to see that President Obama and Democrat leadership convinced enough members of their Party, including Rep. Meek, to completely ignore the will of the American people, and pass their government run health care bill.

“This bill is comprised of secret backroom, sweetheart deals, includes a last minute Executive Order, and the passage of such a bill is a direct affront to the American people.

“Americans deserve better than this liberal, partisan legislation that amounts to a government take over of health care while raising rates, raising taxes, and significantly cutting Medicare.”

Governor Mitch Daniels (IN): “Our two best hopes for more jobs are investment and small business.  The new ‘health care’ bill raises taxes drastically on both, and will harm our economic prospects badly.  Hoosiers will also face higher state taxes as Medicaid rolls explode. It will raise by trillions the crushing debt we already are leaving young Americans; any claims to the contrary are worse than mistaken, they are knowingly fraudulent.  In a life of optimism about America and its future, this morning I am as discouraged as I can remember being.”

Governor Jim Gibbons (NV): “This bill is an effort by Democrats to ram government run health care down our throats. Regardless of the Attorney General’s political affiliation, I am confident she will join me in opposing this illegal federal intrusion into our lives and our state’s rights and sue the federal government.”

Governor Gary Herbert (UT): “States must take reasoned, proactive steps to keep themselves in control of their own reform efforts. With last night’s passage of federal healthcare reform legislation, it is more important than ever that we stand up to the federal government. States simply cannot afford an unfunded mandate of this magnitude that creates yet another unmanageable federal entitlement program.

“In addition, every Utahn should be concerned about the impact of this legislation on our economic recovery, the chilling effect on job creation for small businesses, and the added burden to an already unacceptable and growing national debt.”

“I have consistently said that one-sits-fits-all federal solutions do not address states’ unique circumstances, on this issue or any others. We must recognize the differences that exist throughout the country and develop customized solutions to healthcare reform that addresses the needs of our citizens.”

Governor John Hoeven (ND): “I’m disappointed in the House’s action today to pass the massive healthcare bill that puts government bureaucracy between you and your doctor. The bill will reduce Medicare by another $500 billion and create huge unfunded mandates for the states. This legislation does little to address the real problems of healthcare, which is affordability and accessibility.

“This is not the kind of reform the citizens of our state or our nation want. We need reform that empowers people to choose their own health insurance and their own healthcare providers, and that means making the kinds of incremental reforms that makes healthcare more affordable and accessible like tort reform, portability of insurance, transparency in providing for medical services, more competition among insurance companies, restricting denial for pre-existing conditions, tax credits and expanded health savings accounts, among others.”

Governor Bobby Jindal (LA): “This is a bad bill for Louisiana and a bad bill for our country. Unfortunately, Washington ignored a real opportunity to lower health care costs for our citizens and instead passed a $1.2 trillion spending bill at a time of record deficits. Only in Washington is a new trillion-dollar spending bill a way to save money.  In times of economic challenges and record deficits, government needs to cut spending and taxes not dramatically increase them. Indeed, the actual costs of the bill will be around $2.4 trillion because much of the spending in the bill kicks in after years of higher taxes.

“This bill also imposes new taxes totaling $569.2 billion on Americans, and even raises taxes on medical products, which will only further drive up costs for patients. Directly hurting our seniors, the bill also cuts more than half a trillion dollars from the Medicare program. Moreover, this legislation cuts our state’s DSH funding cap; these dollars are used to fund public hospitals.

“Estimates show that the bill will cost our state around $345 million per year, starting the first year of the full 10 percent state match. This added cost has to be absorbed by the state, while also adding 360,000 new Medicaid enrollees to the Medicaid program, as the new federal mandate requires. These additional enrollees do not include the unknown number of people that are eligible today for Medicaid but not enrolled in the program. Under this new mandate, all of those individuals would now also be required to enroll.

“As we continue to comb through the bill, we will get a better idea of the costs of fully expanding our Medicaid program in compliance with the new mandate, as well as the costs of the lost DSH funding and the costs of the physician reimbursement rate, which are also included in the bill.

“We have reached out to the Attorney General and asked him to join with other states to assert the rights afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution that protect citizens against a federal requirement to purchase a product – like insurance.

“I encourage those in Washington, D.C. to pick up a U.S. Constitution and read it. The legislation’s requirement on all citizens to purchase insurance is fundamentally an unconstitutional expansion of federal power. If the 10th Amendment of the Constitution means anything, we need to stand up for the fact that the federal government can’t force Americans to buy a certain product as a requirement to be an American. If the federal government can do this, what can’t they do? Where does it stop?

“This health care bill paves the way to allow taxpayer funding of elected abortions and we will do everything we can to ensure that no Louisiana tax dollars pay for these abortions.”

Governor Linda Lingle (HI):
“The health care legislation approved by the House tonight will force Hawai‘i and all the other states into a one-size-fits-all program that is financially unsustainable.

“The $1.2 trillion government takeover of health care will cost Hawai‘i residents, conservatively, an estimated $300 million over five years in added costs to our Medicaid programs, which are already hemorrhaging red ink.  This legislation will impose new taxes totaling $569.2 billion that will burden Americans for generations to come.  It will also raise premiums, necessitate the rationing of health care, impede economic growth and job creation as well as require cuts to Medicare.

“Governors across the country have consistently stated that states need the flexibility to adjust their Medicaid programs so they can deliver quality health care to patients at a reasonable and sustainable price.

“Hawai‘i has already undertaken health care reforms. Specifically, our QUEST Medicaid program, which the federal government estimates has saved nearly $700 million by instituting cost-efficiency measures, provides quality health care to low-income men, women and children.

“Hawai‘i needs the freedom to continue these reforms. We don’t need restrictions in the form of unfunded federal mandates.

“This bill was passed in spite of the majority opinion of the American people.  It was passed by making backroom deals with Congressional leaders that will ultimately cost the American taxpayer billions of dollars.  While politics encompasses the art of compromise, this bill secured the ‘yea’ votes behind closed doors, without regard to the long-term economic impact and the overwhelming opposition by many citizens from Hawai‘i and across the nation to many of its provisions.

“It will be some time before the American public sees exactly what is in this bill that contains more than 2,000 pages.  Even the House Speaker admitted last week, ‘we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.’ This legislation does not represent responsible government, nor does it serve the best interest of the American people or the people of Hawai‘i.”

Governor Bob McDonnell (VA): “Expanding access to reasonably priced quality healthcare is a bipartisan goal. We all agree that we must make it easier for Americans to purchase and retain health insurance.  However, this massive and complex piece of legislation allows the federal government to exercise control over one-sixth of the United States economy. The continued intrusion of this Congress into the free enterprise system, and the placing of new mandates on states, is shocking to the American system of federalism. Most disconcerting is the provision mandating that every American must purchase health insurance or face a monetary penalty.  This is an unprecedented expansion of federal power. It is hard to imagine our Founder’s agreeing that the United States Constitution permits Congress to mandate the purchase of a good or service under penalty of law. Just a few days ago I approved a bill, passed on a bipartisan basis, which prohibits mandatory insurance purchases for Virginians. Virginia’s Attorney General has rightly chosen to challenge the constitutionality of the federal mandate. I anticipate that he will be joined by a number of other states. The issues raised by Attorney General Cuccinelli require a full and prompt review by the judicial branch.

While individuals face a mandate in this legislation, so too do the states.  The proposed expansion of Medicaid is an historic unfunded federal mandate on the states. This expansion will put at least 400,000 more individuals on Virginia’s Medicaid rolls. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services has estimated that it will cost the Commonwealth an additional $1.1 billion by 2022. Virginia, and the other 49 states, will bear the financial burden of one of the biggest unfunded mandates in the history of our nation. This will have a significant and unavoidable impact on the bottom line of our state budget, and the general fiscal welfare of Virginia. We simply cannot afford this expansion.
The bill will cut over $500 billion from Medicare, and may reduce the quality of the care our seniors depend upon. The Medicare system is already underfunded and overburdened. This legislation only exacerbates the problems facing the system.

This legislation will raise taxes on individuals and businesses. Our small business owners, who generate nearly 98% of the new jobs in Virginia, will see their taxes go up. This will occur at the same time that federal tax cuts from the early part of last decade expire. We will face significantly higher federal taxes at a time when we need to be keeping taxes low and freeing capital for job creation and economic development. It can also be anticipated that Virginians’ insurance premiums will increase in the years ahead after passage of this legislation.

I am further disappointed that a bill so massive in size is so limited in its approach. Congressional Republicans were right to call for allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and this provision should have been included in the bill.

States have long been leaders in the effort to identify and implement innovative healthcare solutions. Regardless of the future of this legislation, we must continue to play that important role in our federal system. In Virginia we will promote incentives for the purchase of long term care, and promote individual medical savings accounts. We will focus on preventative health and combating obesity. We will study our medical delivery systems with the objective of reforming them to work better for our citizens. Free clinics are an important piece of the coverage equation, and I will look for ways by which the Commonwealth can help with the expansion of these important facilities. We will be aggressive in finding every way by which we can reduce the cost of our Medicaid system, which has already grown 1600% in the past 25 years. It is unsustainable. Every American should have the opportunity to purchase good quality healthcare coverage. But we will not improve our healthcare system by implementing a massive one-size fits all federal policy that dramatically increases the deficit, puts unprecedented mandates on states and individuals, and jeopardizes the good coverage most citizens already have. I am disappointed in the passage of this bill, and I thank the bipartisan majority of Virginia’s congressional delegation for voting against it.”

Governor Butch Otter (ID): “States like Idaho are working hard to create public-private healthcare partnerships and facilitate local solutions. Big federal programs aren’t the answer. It’s even more important now for patients and practitioners, hospitals and health insurers, employers and employees to work together, because Congress and the White House got it wrong. All this will do is keep states and the marketplace from making healthcare more affordable and accessible while imposing a legacy of untold debt on our children and grandchildren.”

Governor Sean Parnell (AK): “This is public policy at its worst,” Governor Parnell said. “I am very concerned with the impacts this bill will have on Alaska’s seniors, families, small businesses, and physicians. For the many Alaskans currently unable to afford insurance, this legislation will do nothing but require that they purchase health insurance. This bill will increase insurance premiums and do very little to ensure that patients have access to needed health care professionals.” “Today’s vote will also have a lasting financial impact on the state’s general fund due to the increased Medicaid costs to the states.”

Governor Rick Perry (TX): “Unfortunately, the health care vote had more to do with expanding socialism on American soil than it does fixing our health care finance and delivery systems. The Obama health care bill undermines patient choice, personal responsibility, medical innovation and fiscal responsibility in America. As passed by the U.S. House, the bill will cost Texas taxpayers billions more, and drive our nation much deeper into debt. Congress’s backroom deals and parliamentary maneuvers undermined the public trust and increased cynicism in our political process. Texas leaders will continue to do everything in our power to fight this federal excess and find ways to protect our families, taxpayers and medical providers from this gross federal overreach.”

Governor Sonny Perdue (GA): “Unfortunately, the United States House of Representatives last night chose politics over the will of the American people. The enormous upheaval of our healthcare system was pushed through the House against the wishes of the majority of American families and businesses.

“Here in Georgia, this vote will force an additional billion dollars or more of Medicaid spending per year, requiring either a tax hike or offsetting cuts to public safety, education and other core services of state government. While this colossal unfunded mandate cripples our budget, I am even more concerned about the debilitating impact it will have on Georgia’s small businesses. The extension of the Medicare tax on all non-wage income means that small business owners will see their top rate increased by 20 percent and investment income taxes increasing 60 percent.

“What is most unfortunate is that the American people had no voice at the table in Washington during the course of this debate. The only glimpse citizens saw of the process were closed-door meetings that resulted in backroom deals and the buying of votes to ensure passage. I am today renewing my December request to the Attorney General that he join other states in reviewing the constitutionality of this travesty. My office has already begun to review any and all legal options to challenge this legislation.

“I also urge the Georgia General Assembly to continue moving forward on my proposal to allow Georgians to purchase insurance plans across state lines. Now that Congress is mandating that every American purchase health insurance, we should open the individual market to as much competition as possible.

“Since this bill has such a significant impact on future state budgets, it is imperative that current candidates for elected office publicly state their plans to either support the Obama-Pelosi legislation or fight for the people of Georgia.”

Governor M. Jodi Rell (CT): “It seems everyone in Washington – pundits and politicians alike – had something to say on the bill, but the only ones not heard were the American people. And people wonder why Washington has never been more unpopular.

“We’re the ones left to figure out the bill, left to see if it can work and determine how much it will cost. I expect to know more about that this week. This much, however, I can tell you already: Connecticut, like nearly every other state, cannot afford millions and billions in costs that Washington passes along. It’s that simple.”

Governor Bob Riley (AL): “I am deeply concerned that sustaining the level of coverage this bill mandates will translate into a substantial tax increase on the people of Alabama. Not only does it raise costs for the state, it raises the cost of health care for many Alabama employers, families and individuals.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) I have always supported the need for comprehensive health reform. However, for health care reform to succeed, states must either have the flexibility to live within the revenues that are available to them or the federal resources to fully fund its mandates. I hope state fiscal needs are carefully considered as this process goes forward. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Obama Administration to ensure that states like California have the fiscal and administrative resources required to effectively implement federal health reform and the expansion of these new federal benefits.”