GOP lawmakers: Health care reform bill 'too expensive'
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- This weekend, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to reform the nation's health care.
Republicans were nearly unanimous in rejecting the measure, with just one member from the GOP voting in favor of the bill. Opponents of the bill say, at $1.3 trillion, it's too expensive and the nation needs to focus on job creation.
The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Iowa's Chuck Grassley, says for folks in his home state, the proposal is "all wrong."
Grassley says, "What we have in the House of Representatives bill passed Saturday night is increased premiums for health insurance, raising of taxes, the cutting of Medicare."
President Obama says he'd like to sign a health care reform bill before the end of the year. In the coming weeks, Grassley says he'll work to save Medicare financing since Iowa's reimbursement rate is among the lowest in the country.
Three Siouxland congressional representatives voted "no" on the proposal. Republicans Jeff Fortenberry and Steve King, and Democrat Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, all turned it down, saying the proposal just wasn't right for their respective states.
"Almost everything on theft list of the logical, fiscally responsible, freedom enhancing options that we have has never been introduced into the bill. It's been blocked by Speaker Pelosi and so I stand solemnly against it," says King.
With continued job losses and a national unemployment rate around 10%, Congressman King says money needs to be top of mind.
"There are a whole series of things that do not cost a lot of money that provide for more freedom, that do not put the government in between the doctor and the patient," King said.
And first district Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry agrees. Fortenberry says, it's not too late to get back to health care basics, like creating wellness incentives.
"If we did those things and increased basic health services like community health centers, then I think we would have driven down costs and improve health care of all Americans," Fortenberry said.
Another fix Fortenberry and King agree on: Opening up state borders to allow patients to shop around for the best deal. The congressmen both say that would keep insurance companies competitive, ushering in lower health care costs for Americans.
"They're not happy with rising costs and some people are having real affordability problems," Fortenberry said.
But there is optimism on Capitol Hill.
South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Democrat, also voted against the measure, but told NewsChannel 4, "While the bill does not yet represent the right formula for South Dakota, I remain optimistic that, with the House and Senate working together with the President, we will achieve a good bill for South Dakota during this Congress."
US Senator Tom Harkin, of Iowa, responded to the proposal's passing with optimism.
Harkin says, "With the vote in the US House, Americans are one step closer to quality, affordable health care that reins in rising costs that are stretching family budgets and crippling businesses. This legislation will greatly decrease the number of uninsured and it takes steps to change our "sick care" system to a genuine health care system by investing in prevention and wellness."