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Relating to the House Procedures Contained in Section 803 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


RELATING TO THE HOUSE PROCEDURES CONTAINED IN SECTION 803 OF THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG, IMPROVEMENT, AND MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives - July 24, 2008)

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, my chairman of the Budget Committee just spoke, and, yes, he did read that the CBO said that the bill that passed on the doc fix, according to the CBO, does satisfy the trigger.

So if you are satisfying the trigger, then why are you turning it off? If you are actually accomplishing the objective set out with this law, then why are you getting rid of this trigger? Why do we have this trigger?

We have this trigger. It's a funding warning because Medicare is going bankrupt. Medicare is a $36 trillion unfunded liability. You know what it's going to be next year by this time? It's going to be $38.4 trillion. Do you know what will happen in 5 years if we do nothing to save Medicare as the Democratic budget proposes to do? $48 trillion unfunded liability.

The preceding paragraph in this CBO report goes on to specify that the judgment, the referee of the trigger, are the trustees. So why don't we take this bill off the floor, have the trustees verify what CBO says that maybe, in fact, this bill that you just passed, that we all passed, does satisfy the trigger, and don't turn off this funding warning. Turning off this funding warning is basically saying, ignore the fact that Medicare is going bankrupt. Make sure that Congress does nothing to fix this problem.

I might add that this CBO estimate relies on the fact that next year we are going to cut doctors by 21 percent in Medicare. The only reason this estimate holds up is if we guarantee a 21 percent payment cut to all doctors servicing Medicare. That's why we are in conformity with this trigger as CBO says.

CBO is not the referee of this. The trustees are, the trustees of Medicare.

Turning off this trigger is basically saying that we have no fiscal discipline, we have no intention of saving Medicare from bankruptcy, we have no intention of being good stewards of the taxpayer dollars, we have no intention of controlling spending.

We have every intention of making matters worse, not only by doing nothing, but adding more spending. That is reckless. That is fiscal abandonment.

The trigger was a bipartisan idea. A Democrat in the Senate and a Republican in the House came up with this idea to make sure that Congress saw fair warning and actually addressed these issues before it got out of control.

And so, instead of addressing these warnings, instead of bringing Medicare toward solvency, instead of making sure we can guarantee this program for seniors in the next generation, what are we doing in this Congress? We are sticking our heads in the sand. That is wrong. This shouldn't pass. You know better.

More to the point, if you think you are satisfying it, then why are you turning it off? That makes no sense.

The only opportunity, the only explanation is you don't want to have this tool of fiscal discipline. You don't want the American people knowing that you are actually contributing to the insolvency of Medicare, that you are actually making matters worse. That is wrong, and I urge defeat of this.

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