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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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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. PALLONE. I thank my friend from Florida, and I rise in support of this rule.

Since its inception, Democrats have been the party to keep Medicare working for America's seniors and disabled. Contrast that with Republicans when they were in charge. During their majority, Medicare funding increased dramatically so they could shower their pals in the insurance industry with higher reimbursements than regular Medicare, all in an effort to privatize the program.

Republicans are willing to look past all of that, pat themselves on the back and call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility because of some arbitrary policy that they inserted into the Medicare Modernization Act that pretends to address Medicare financing. This provision is more about smoke and mirrors than it is about ensuring Medicare remains intact.

Republicans say it is about cost containment; I say it is about cost shifting. The sad truth is that the 45 percent trigger is designed to reduce the obligation of the Federal Government to fund part of Medicare, thereby shifting more costs to beneficiaries.

Since taking control of Congress, Democrats have set out to put Medicare on a sustainable track. During our first year in charge, the House passed the CHAMP Act which would have extended Medicare solvency by 2 years by reducing wasteful overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans. And just a couple of weeks ago, we enacted the Medicare Improvements for Patient and Providers of 2008 against the President's objections.

According to the CBO, under that bill the 45 percent threshold would be first crossed in fiscal year 2014, 1 year later than under the prior law. So I say contrary to what my friends on the other side of the aisle are saying, the fact of the matter is that Democrats are being fiscally responsible. Democrats are confronting Medicare's challenges, and we don't need an arbitrary policy that is a relic of the previous majority in order to do that.

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