(Note: Signature HealthCARE welcomes all manner of political discourse and opinion, and regularly hosts elected officials in its facilities and offices regardless of party affiliation. These visits should not necessarily be taken as an endorsement of the views or policies of any particular party or representative. Signature strives to be a conduit for the freedoms this great nation affords through the company’s three pillars: Spirituality (the freedom to choose/to be); Education (the freedom to learn, think and opine); Intrapreneurship (the freedom to express new ideas and manifest those ideas into reality. For more about Signature, visit www.ltcrevolution.com.)
With the national presidential election just over two months away, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spent an impassioned hour with stakeholders at Signature HealthCARE’s home office in Louisville last week, answering questions and detailing reasons he believes the nation is in need of new leadership.
During the event, arranged by SHC Director of Legislative Affairs Kathy Gallin, McConnell specifically discussed the Affordable Care Act – the health care reform bill signed into law in March 2010 that sparked a lengthy and ongoing debate among members of Congress. McConnell called the bill “the single worst piece of legislation that’s been passed in modern times.”
“For the country, it’s an unmitigated disaster,” he said.
The bill includes provisions and requirements that would extend health benefits to the nation’s 30-40 million uninsured. Of those without health insurance, half lack the financial means to purchase it, while the remainder simply choose not to, McConnell said. A “happy circumstance” that also poses cost challenges, he added, is the fact that people are living longer now than they were decades ago.
“The dilemma here for our country is that we can’t provide this much, for this many, for this long.”
To fund the expansion of health insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act proposes to cut $716 billion from the federal Medicare budget, which would account for half of the money needed. The balance, McConnell noted, will come from new taxes.
To address the matter, the senior U.S. Senator said changes in eligibility rules for entitlement programs are needed, referencing billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
“Why in the world are we spreading these benefits across affluent people in our country?” he said. “We can’t afford it.”
McConnell also touched on an issue central to LTC providers in Kentucky: tort reform. While surrounding states, including Indiana and Tennessee, have in place some form of tort reform to ensure that lawsuits are valid and monetary awards are reasonable. Disagreements between the state Senate and House of Representatives prevented legislation from being passed during the 2012 regular legislative session, but similar legislation is expected to be filed again next year.
Among other issues raised during the visit, McConnell…
• Addressed the United States’ economic woes amid increasing competitive pressures from other countries. To strengthen the United States‘ standing as the dominant economic force in the world, he said we must create a pro-business environment by refraining from overtaxation and overregulation.
• Cast doubt that the U.S. would default on its debt but added that it was a reasonable concern to question whether foreign investors might eventually lose confidence in the U.S. economy and decide to invest elsewhere. He noted that the national debt is now roughly equivalent to the nation’s economy, or Gross Domestic Product. Both the national debt and the GDP hover at about $16 trillion.
• Was sympathetic to Americans’ dismal 12% approval rating of Congress. “If you’re one of the 88 percent, I’m with you,” he said.
• Said parties could work together to solve the nation’s problems and avoid Congressional gridlock. He cited political tandems from opposite sides of the aisle – Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill raising the age of eligibility for Social Security recipients in the 1980s, for instance – that were able to successfully work together to craft important legislation. And, should President Obama be reelected, McConnell expressed a desire to set aside partisan bickering and focus on effective governance.
“It’s time to get serious and get a result,” he said.
Lastly, McConnell expressed industry-wide appreciation for all health care workers.
“To me, everybody in the health care field deserves a lot of credit. I just want to thank you for all you’re doing.”