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Dear Mr. Hunt:

Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform. I appreciate the comments you have shared with me and the opportunity to respond.

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee as well as a former small business owner, I am aware of the problems our nation faces regarding health care, and am sensitive to the struggles the average, hard-working American faces when trying to gain access to adequate and affordable health care. I agree we must look for solutions to find ways to provide access to affordable health care to individuals who lack access to health insurance through an employer.

As I am sure you are aware, on November 7, 2009, the House passed health care reform legislation that would cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The bill also would create a public insurance plan to compete with offerings from private companies and would pay for the coverage expansion by raising taxes on upper-income earners. I am adamantly opposed to the House proposed legislation.

On November 21, 2009, the Senate voted in favor of beginning debate on a $2.5 trillion health care bill that was written by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) behind closed doors. I voted against moving forward with this hybrid bill that merged the Senate Finance Committee’s health care reform legislation with the bill that was passed in July by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. I already had voted against the health care bill that passed out of the HELP Committee on July 15, 2009.

On December 24, 2009, the Senate approved the health care reform legislation by a vote of 60 – 39, without my support. The Senate bill now must be reconciled with a different version passed by the House. If the two chambers are able to reach a compromise on the final health care reform bill, each chamber must vote to approve that compromise.

I am strongly opposed to the Senate bill, because I believe it would raise taxes, raise premiums, cut benefits for seniors and place a massive unfunded mandate on Georgia and other states to pay for a proposed expansion of Medicaid.

Once fully implemented in 2014, the proposal would cost an estimated $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Despite the exorbitant cost, an estimated 24 million Americans would still be left without health insurance and 5 million people would lose their employer coverage under the Democrats’ proposal.

The Senate bill also includes $518.5 billion in tax increases and $466.7 billion in Medicare cuts for seniors. In addition, the bill was previously reported in adding $28 billion in new taxes on employers who do not provide government-approved health plans. I believe these new taxes would ultimately result in reduced wages and lost jobs.

I believe there could be some common ground between Republicans and Democrats in terms of insurance portability and not being rejected for pre-existing conditions or cancelled if you have a disease. However, I am very disappointed by the lack of transparency as the legislation was drafted and the backroom deals that Democratic Leader Reid made with certain Senate Democrats in order to secure their votes on his health care proposal.

I believe the key to health care reform is stimulating competition in a market-based system that will encourage private health insurers and managed care providers to compete for business and make health insurance more affordable for consumers. I also believe Congress should look carefully into proposals that will increase coverage of preventative and wellness care, which will help control the cost of managing chronic diseases and drive down the cost of treating largely preventable conditions.

The thousands of Georgians I have heard from back home during the last several months are very leery of being pushed into a government-run system that will have to be paid for with higher taxes. I will not be a part of driving Americans to a government-run health care system that we can’t afford.

I am a co-sponsor of S.1099, the Patient’s Choice Act of 2009, which seeks to strengthen the relationship between patient and doctors by using choice and competition, rather than health care rationing and restriction, to contain costs and ensure access to affordable health care for all Americans. For more information on the Patient Choice Act please visit my website at http://isakson.senate.gov/healthcare.html.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please visit my webpage at http://isakson.senate.gov/ for more information on the issues important to you and to sign up for my e-newsletter.

Sincerely,
Johnny Isakson
United States Senator

For future correspondence with my office, please visit my web site at http://isakson.senate.gov/contact.cfm. You can also click here to sign up for the eNewsletter

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