MEDICARE IMPROVEMENTS FOR PATIENTS AND PROVIDERS ACT--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - July 09, 2008)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, the issue before us is the physician payment update, and on that point we don't disagree at all. Everyone agrees we should prevent the cut and preserve seniors' access to care under the Medicare Program.
Republicans have been flexible on finding a solution. When it was clear that the Senate wouldn't move to the last partisan bill that was proposed, I asked my friends on the other side to work with us on a bipartisan compromise with Senator Grassley and Senator Baucus. Both have a long history on finding workable compromises on very tough issues. If that wasn't possible, we proposed an 18-month extension of current law. Then we proposed a 1-month extension. There is no good reason patients and physicians should suffer while Congress works out its disagreements. The majority objected to all of these proposals out of hand. They weren't interested. They even rejected the opportunity to have a single amendment on the bill--no amendments.
So now, rather than resolving the problem in a way that is acceptable to everyone and in a form the President will sign, we are no closer to a solution for seniors and their doctors than we were 2 weeks ago. Rather than passing a short-term safety net bill while we get a good, bipartisan bill to protect 2 million seniors from losing their private Medicare Advantage plans, the majority chose an all-or-nothing approach.
It seems to me that if we can't resolve policy issues today, we should at least agree to a short-term extension of existing law, which my good friend from Florida just offered, including a bipartisan proposal to delay competitive bidding that is identical to a provision in the House bill that the other side has already voted for.
So let's sum it up. The Democrats don't want a bipartisan compromise. They don't want a long-term extension of current law. They don't want a short-term extension of current law. Yet they are not to blame for this Medicare cut going into effect? We know how to prevent this cut from going into effect, but we can't stop it. We can't protect the doctors, and we can't protect access of choice for seniors if the Democrats won't let us.
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