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March 26, 2012

UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT: Johanns Speaks on Health Care Law Impacting States' Budgets

Mr. Johanns:  Mr. President, I rise today to once again speak about a topic that I have spoken to many times over the last two years, and that's the health care law. Today I’d like to focus on a number of aspects of the Health Care Law, but to start, I would point out that this law enacted the largest expansion of Medicaid since its inception in 1965.

The law dramatically increases government spending, it ties the hands of states, it's going to bankrupt state budgets, and it traps nearly 26 million Americans in a broken system. Last week's Medicaid actuary report indicates that 25.9 million more Americans will be dumped on Medicaid under the new law. And the week before, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office pointed out that federal spending on Medicaid will increase by $168 billion.

That's just compared to last year's projection. That means that this expansion alone is projected to cost the federal taxpayers $795 billion through 2021. That's at a time when not only our federal budget is struggling, but in addition to that, our state budgets are in trouble. Added up, the federal government will spend $4.6 trillion on Medicaid over the next ten years, a staggering number, $4.6 trillion.

Medicaid spending is projected to increase 35% once the law is fully implemented. So with our national debt now approaching $16 trillion and compounding exponentially, as we borrow 42 cents of every dollar we spend every day, while instead of reining in costs, the health care law is doubling down with spending. But the Medicaid expansion did not stop with wrecking the federal budget. It hammers state budgets as well. This program already consumes 24% of state budgets. The law's Medicaid expansion will force $118 billion in additional unfunded mandates on our states through 2023.

The National Governors' Association has weighed in on this issue, and they said, "spending on Medicaid is expected to consume an increasing share of state budgets and grow much more rapidly than state revenue growth, resulting in slow or no growth in education, transportation, or public safety."

The Nebraska impact tells the story. The governor commissioned a study in Nebraska to see what the impact would be of the Health Care Law on the state budget. Nebraska will spend an additional $526 million to $766 million over the next ten years, on its Medicaid program. The expansion  could add up to 145,000 Nebraskans to the Medicaid program over the next decade.

Currently, one in nine Nebraskans are enrolled in Medicaid. The new provisions of the law will expand eligibility to one in five Nebraskans, 20%. Governor Heineman addressed this issue and said this unfunded and unparalleled expansion of Medicaid is an unfair and unsustainable mandate on Nebraska and other states.

The federal health care law is an extraordinarily large and excessive unfunded mandate for states. It is potentially devastating to our state budget. Now, today with me on the floor I am joined by two former governors. All three of us have had to deal with balancing budgets, and we have no choice but to make sure that at the end of our legislative sessions, our budgets are in fact balanced. Senator Alexander, you were vocal in speaking out against this policy during the health care debate. You've got a rather unique perspective because not only are you a former governor, you're a former U.S. secretary of education. I'd like you to take a few minutes and explain how this law is going to affect the health care system, our educational system, our states, and for that matter, our country.

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