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Hatch keeps up criticism of health-care law

From NBC's Catherine Chomiak
This past Friday, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) called health-care reform a “stupid, dumb-ass program.” 

Today, he continued to use strong language to express his opposition to the law -- but didn’t go as far -- when talking about the White House's offer to expedite a waiver process that would allow states to opt out of parts of the act.

"The waivers fail to give relief to state newly burdened with billions of dollars in new Medicaid spending mandates. I was on public television yesterday, right after [HHS] Secretary Sebelius who was saying this change from 2017 to 2014 is going to give you all kinds of flexibility. I'll tell you that's BULL! There's no question about it," he said, avoiding profanity at the Federation of American Hospitals Conference this morning in Washington, D.C. 

"As for the administrations claim that it has provided a needed flexibility to the states," Hatch continued, "I believe the technical legal term is bologna."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour also addressed the group of medical administrators.

On the budget, Hatch and Cantor warned of tough choices as they attempt to “tighten the belt” of the government. And they expressed a willingness to take on entitlement reform -- under the right circumstances.

“We have serious problems ahead of us, and they require serious answers and some very tough conversations with the American people. We can’t have everything and choices need to be made. It’s just that simple,” Hatch said.

“What we need to do is to focus on jobs and the economy and make sure that we are dealing with our fiscal situation because many who we rely upon to drive this economy are waiting for the government to do what they are doing which is to tighten the belt and to find a way to do more with less,” Cantor added.

Echoing Cantor, Barbour emphasized the need for concentration on jobs and the economy.  “Less spending clearly is our goal and our mandate, but it’s a means to an end. We want a bigger more vibrant economy that employs more people."

Cantor and Hatch say entitlement reform is necessary in order to truly reduce the government’s debt. “The budget, we have said, will contain a prescription or a vision as to how we expect to deal with the future of entitlement programs in this country,” Cantor promised.

While the continuing resolution may have a plan for entitlement programs, Hatch signals that it will take both chambers of Congress and the White House to get anywhere. 

“We’re not going to make any headway on entitlement spending without presidential leadership. We all know that. Members of Congress know that if they do something about Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, alone the president can demagogue that issue and use it for political purposes. No, we have to work together in these areas,” he explained.