WASHINGTON (CN) – Senators considered a motion Thursday to send the health bill back to the Senate Finance Committee, but debate switched quickly to the bill itself. Sen. Bernard Sanders said in an emotional speech that seven million Americans lost their insurance under the Bush Administration while hundreds of thousands died without access to care. “Where were the Republicans for eight years?” he yelled.
While Republicans derided the bill. “This is Medicaid for the masses,” Florida Republican Georg LeMieux said.
Democrats, argued against the motion on the rare occasion that they cited it, pressing the urgency of health care reform, while Republicans argued that the bill could increase state taxes.
The motion, introduced by Idaho Republican Mike Crapo, would demand that the Senate Finance Committee ensure that no person earning a less than $200,000 salary would face increased federal taxes as a result of the bill, or for married coupled with less than $250,000 joint salaries.
Republicans, who rarely cited the motion at hand, pointed to the bill’s expansion of Medicaid, which is largely funded by the states, to argue that the bill would shift the burden of health care to already struggling states.
Idaho Republican James Risch called the move a “raid on the states.”
They also said that moving more people onto Medicaid would be a bad idea.
Republican LeMieux called Medicaid “the worst health care system in America,” noting that 40 percent of doctors and 50 percent of specialists don’t take Medicaid patients.
Democrats were quick to point to the growing need for reform.
Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu said Congress has been trying to pass health care reform since the days of when Harry Truman, who took office in 1945, was president. “We can’t throw this away now,” she said, referring to the motion to send the bill backwards.
And in responding to Republican concerns over raised taxes, Landriew said that attention should instead be drawn to the fact that the bill is paid for, and added that bills can’t keep passing through Congress without finding ways to pay for them, as they did during the last administration.
Bernard Sanders, an independent from Vermont joined Democrats in highlighting the need for speedy reform, pointing to the continued growth in the number of uninsured Americans and the associated unnecessary deaths.