Tester Still Evaluating Senate Health Care Bill

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said a lot of good things Wednesday night about the sweeping Senate health care bill — but stopped short of promising to vote for it.

Tester spoke to constituents in a telephone town hall meeting after the bill was released by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — who is now trying to gather 60 critical votes in support of it.

Tester had only good things to say about the Senate health care reform plan. But will he vote for it?

“We will make some changes on it, and we will vote on it,” Tester said. “I just received the bill like everyone else.”

Tester lauded the Senate reform plans — coalesced in Reid’s mammoth, 2,074-page bill — for promising to reduce the deficit, control health care costs, make insurance affordable, save Medicare from bankruptcy and make many other improvements.

One caller quizzed the senator about the fairness of forcing people to buy health insurance with mandates.

“The mandate section is interesting because we have about 40 million people who don’t have health care in this country,” Tester said. “We have to take some responsibility, just like we do for liability on car insurance. It’s the same kind of deal.”

Tester said insurance would be made more affordable, and people would be given help in paying for it.

Tester said the current system is not sustainable — and promised reform would reduce costs for working families. He also lauded the Senate reform plans for helping shore up Medicare costs

“Make no mistake about it: The current system is broken,” Tester said. “That’s why we need to work together to get a bill that works for this country.”

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