December 21, 2009
The Honorable Mark Warner United States Senate SDB Building 40C Washington, DC 20510 The Honorable Jim Webb United States Senate 144 Russell Building Washington, DC 20510
RE: Federal Healthcare Reform Legislation
Dear Senators Warner and Webb: I have been following with great interest the important debate currently taking place in Washington with respect to the proposed reform of our nation's healthcare system. While I certainly agree that we face serious problems with respect to the affordability and availability of healthcare for many Americans, it is important that any reform legislation address these issues without creating other problems for American consumers and businesses or jeopardizing the quality of our healthcare delivery system, which is currently the best in the world. For many reasons, I strongly oppose the healthcare reform legislation that is currently pending before the United States Senate and I encourage you to vote against this legislation and any procedural votes that would allow this legislation to come to a final vote.
In my judgment, the legislation currently pending in the Senate will ultimately increase the cost of healthcare and result in higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes for the vast majority of the American people.
In addition, I believe that this legislation will jeopardize the quality of healthcare that is currently available in our country and take important healthcare decisions out of the hands of consumers and turn these decisions over to government bureaucrats.
Perhaps most importantly, I am concerned that the cost of this legislation will be much higher than currently estimated, and it will inevitably add significantly to the cost of our federal deficit, which is, quite frankly, out of control and threatens the long term financial viability of our nation. If these concerns were not reason enough to vote against this misguided legislation, I am writing to you today to let you know that I am outraged by reports that surfaced this weekend regarding concessions that were made to Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to secure his vote in support of this legislation.
As you know, one of our major concerns with this legislation is the potential impact it could have on the cost of Medicaid for Virginia's state government. Many reports have suggested that this legislation could result in much higher Medicaid costs for state governments across the nation, costs that state governments simply cannot bear. Against this background, I was amazed to hear that the Senate's Democratic leadership had made concessions to Senator Nelson that would hold his home state of Nebraska harmless as to any additional Medicaid costs that might come about as a result of the enrollment of new Medicaid recipients after 2017. I find these reports particularly troubling since they come on the heels of similar concessions that were given to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to secure her vote in support of this legislation just a few weeks ago. In addition to the "pay offs" that were offered to Senators Nelson and Landrieu, unconfirmed media reports over the weekend have revealed that other Senators may have negotiated similar special treatment deals for their states. If these reports are accurate, this type of quid pro quo is unacceptable, and you and your colleagues should object strongly to the practice, which I have no doubt the American people will find offensive as well.
If the Senate's leadership is so desperate to obtain votes to secure the passage of this legislation that they would make these types of concessions to these Senators, I would ask that you demand that the same concessions be extended to Virginia, and for that matter, to every other state in the nation.
Allowing key provisions in this legislation to be used to essentially buy votes from Senators Landrieu and Nelson at the expense of other states such as Virginia should be as offensive to you as it is to me, and it should give you all the reason you need to oppose this misguided legislation. Thank you for your service to the people of Virginia and for considering my views on this important issue.
Very Truly Yours,
WILLIAM T. BOLLING
Lieutenant Governor Commonwealth of Virginia