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Health Care Reform

Sen. Richard J. Durbin

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Madam President, those who have followed this debate know Members can disagree, and, obviously, I disagree with the Republican leader on the issue of health care reform. I would say there are a couple elements I would add.

Yes, we expand the Medicaid rolls. That is health insurance for those in low-income categories. But the Federal Government picks up the tab. It is not an added expense to the State governments for 4 or 5 years, and we are hoping their economy gets better.

What about the 1 million Kentuckians who are going on the Medicaid rolls? Those 1 million Kentuckians have no health insurance today. Will they ever get sick? Will they show up at a hospital? Yes, they will. Who will pay for their bills? The rest of the folks living in Kentucky with health insurance and the rest of us.

Is that fair? Do these people have a personal responsibility to have health insurance, as long as we help them, if they are in lower income categories, pay the premiums with tax breaks and enrolling them in Medicaid? Of course they do.

Accepting personal responsibility used to be the first thing the Republicans told us about their family values. Why don't people have to accept personal responsibility and have health insurance so the cost of their care is not borne by their neighbors and the rest of America?

Let me also add again, Members of the U.S. Senate have a government-administered health care program that protects them, their family, and their children. They sign up for it every single year. Not a single one has come to the well here and said: I am so opposed to government-administered programs I am going to stop enrolling in the health insurance program for Members of Congress--not a one.