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Unanimous-Consent Requests

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


UNANIMOUS-CONSENT REQUESTS -- (Senate - November 19, 2008)

Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that we move forward on this bill, S. 3689--there is a provision in that dealing with what we call FMAP--that the FMAP provision be taken out, that it be considered as separate legislation, be read three times and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, and there be no intervening action or debate.

The reason that is so very important is that FMAP is something that every State--every State, all 50--is in desperate need of. No part of our country has proven immune from our economic struggles. We are all sharing the heavy burden of these difficult times. But few places are suffering, though, more than we are in Nevada.

Budget shortfalls in Nevada are causing deep cuts in bedrock programs the Government must provide, programs that help and protect children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.

The State of Nevada has been forced to cap enrollment in Nevada Check-Up, our form of children's health insurance. The State recently had to institute cuts to provider reimbursement. What is worse, these cuts will not end here unless we act to provide fiscal relief by increasing the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage; that is, FMAP.

What are the consequences of inaction? It was reported in the media this weekend that due to the provider rate cut, University Medical Center in Las Vegas, our public hospital, is discontinuing outpatient cancer treatment. And that is not just for Medicaid patients, it is for all patients. It is not clear if all those patients will be able to afford chemotherapy elsewhere, but it is pretty clear they will not be able to.

Low-income children who need orthopedic treatment will have to leave Las Vegas altogether for services elsewhere. They will likely have to leave the State.

There is more to come. The cuts are not over. This is the way it is in many States around the country. The budget shortfalls are deep. When States have to cut provider reimbursement for some of the things I have outlined, they have real difficulties in making the safety net not be one that has big holes in it. States have found no choice but to look at cutting services such as mental health and cutting actual people from the program, adding to the ranks of the insured at the worst possible time.

We have been working in the Senate to provide help. The stimulus bill we introduced includes a temporary 8-percent FMAP increase to stave off these cuts. It will not fix the problem, but it may make a difference in ensuring that our children are not without the care they need. I hope we can take that step.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, reserving the right to object, this is a spending measure of $37.8 billion which has not been considered by the Finance Committee. We should be asking the States to pay it back. We should require the States to agree to not raise taxes. For all of those reasons, Madam President, I object.

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