WASHINGTON - Today Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), both members of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, called for the defeat of pending Republican legislation that would not reduce skyrocketing health care costs for the millions of small business owners and their employees across the country. They were joined by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Thomas Carper (D-Del.), and Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in opposing S. 1955, sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). Following are statements by Lieberman and Cantwell:

“This bill takes a bad situation – the 46 million Americans who have no health insurance – and makes it worse by reducing the level of guaranteed care, increasing the price and eliminating consumer protections for all existing health care insurance policies,” said Lieberman. “By doing so, this bill actually violates the prime tenet of heath care, which says: ‘First, do no harm.’ But the Republicans think this is such a good idea they made it the centerpiece of their ‘so called’ health week, rather than extending the Medicare Part D deadline, or allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate for better drug prices for Medicare.

“I know this is a bad bill,” said Lieberman. “As Attorney General of Connecticut, I stood with consumers and took the insurance industry to court over issues like anti-trust, discrimination against women and mental health benefits. I wouldn’t have been able to do that under this bill. This bill wipes out all state insurance regulations in favor of rules that will be written by a new national commission made up largely of insurance industry representatives.”

To learn more about Lieberman's position on the Enzi bill, click here.

“We absolutely need to make sure that small businesses can afford to cover their employees and make it easy for them to do so,” said Cantwell. “I’ve been arguing this for years. But the Enzi plan preempts state laws and permits companies to avoid benefit mandates like cancer screening or mental health parity. It is possible to make healthcare coverage more affordable for small businesses without sacrificing important consumer protections.

“The legislation I’m supporting makes health care affordable while preserving critical consumer protections and benefit packages, something no other proposal that I’ve seen in D.C. seems to be able to do,” said Cantwell. “My plan helps small businesses pool their purchasing power, drive costs down, and deliver affordable health care to more Americans.”

To learn more about Cantwell’s position on the Enzi bill, click here.