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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, we had a very clarifying vote on the Senate floor about the direction of our friends on the other side with regard to our health care system. Yesterday, all but two of them voted to preserve nearly $ 1/2 trillion in cuts to Medicare, the health program for our seniors. In the runup to that vote, they said these cuts were not cuts and that Medicare Advantage in particular is not a part of Medicare, arguments plainly contradicted by the text of the bill itself, by the Department of Health and Human Services, by the independent Congressional Budget Office, and by the experience of seniors themselves.

Seniors do not want Senators fooling with Medicare. Let me say that again. Seniors do not want Senators fooling with Medicare. They want us to fix it, to strengthen it, to preserve it for future generations--not raid it like a giant piggy bank in order to create some entirely new government program.

Yesterday's vote was particularly distressing for the nearly 11 million seniors on Medicare Advantage. So today Members will have an opportunity to undo the damage they voted to do to this program. With yesterday's vote, proponents of this measure authorized $120 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage and in the process they expressly voted to violate the President's pledge that seniors who like the plans they have can keep them. The President has said seniors who like the plans they have can keep them--because you can't cut $120 billion from a benefits program, obviously, without cutting benefits.

The Congressional Budget Office has been crystal clear on this matter. When asked about the effect these cuts would have on Medicare Advantage, the Director of CBO was unequivocal. He said that approximately half of Medicare Advantage benefits will be cut for nearly 11 million seniors enrolled in this program under this bill.

This is the Director of the Congressional Budget Office being unequivocal. He said that approximately half of Medicare Advantage benefits will be cut for nearly 11 million seniors enrolled in this program under this bill. That is what our friends on the other side voted for yesterday and they know it.

One Democrat last night was explicit. He admitted that after yesterday's votes, Democrats will not be able to say that ``if you like what you have you can keep it.'' This is one of our Democrat colleagues yesterday saying: ``If you like what you have you can keep it'' can no longer be said.

He went on to say ``that basic commitment that a lot of us around here have made will be called into question.'' I think that is highly likely.

Our friends have a couple of choices here today. They can reaffirm their plan to cut benefits for nearly one-fourth of all seniors enrolled in Medicare, they can admit that the President's pledge about keeping the plan you like no longer applies, or they can reverse part of yesterday's vote later today by voting with Republicans to restore those cuts to Medicare Advantage.

I yield the floor.


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