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Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 - Conference Report - Resumed

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Not only does that report say that, but as you say, common sense ought to tell you that. Unfortunately, it is pretty obvious the folks on the other side of the aisle who are promoting this bill don't get that message.

Let me quote the chairman of the Finance Committee, who today issued this statement relative to the CMS report the Senator has in his hand. He said:

The report shows that health reform will ensure both the Federal Government and the American people spend less on health care than if this bill does not pass.

That statement is directly contrary to the statement in the CMS report that Senator Alexander just referenced, which says:

..... we estimate that total national health expenditures under this bill would increase by an estimated total of $234 billion (0.7 percent) during calendar years 2010-2019.

Not only that, but the report says that national health expenditures would increase as a percentage of GDP from $1 of every $7, which is about 16 percent, to $1 out of every $5, which is 20 percent.

What the report concludes is not only are our health care costs going to go up, but as the Senator from Arizona said, 20 percent of all Part A providers--nursing homes, hospitals, home health--would become unprofitable within the next 10 years as a result of the provision in this bill relating to the Medicare cuts the Senator from Tennessee talked about.

The American people do get it. That is why these poll numbers the Senator from Wyoming just stated coming out of CNN and why the FOX poll I saw this morning said 57 percent of the people in America are opposed to this bill. The American people are getting it but, for some reason, our friends on the other side of the aisle are not.

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. I wish to ask a question or two of the Senator from Wyoming, who is a medical doctor and who, prior to coming to the Senate, was an active orthopedic surgeon.

I have had physicians come into my office by the droves and talk to me about Medicare before we ever got into this health care debate, and what I heard was in reference to the reimbursement rate under Medicare to physicians and to hospitals being so low.

In fact, the American Hospital Association has come out just in the last 24 hours and pointed out that hospitals across the Nation get a return of about 91 cents for every dollar of care provided. That is not 91 cents of the amount of charges from the hospital to Medicare, it is 91 cents of the cost of the care provided. So the return is about 10 percent less to a hospital than the cost that the hospital has in it.

My understanding is that at least 10 percent less than the cost provided for a physician is reimbursed to the physician under Medicare. As a result of that, the younger physicians, particularly, who are coming out of med school with these huge debts they have incurred as a result of the long years they are required to be in school, simply cannot afford to take Medicare patients and they are not taking Medicare patients. Is that in fact what is happening in the real world? And will that not get worse under this proposal?

Mr. BARRASSO. It is happening. It will get worse under the proposal that is ahead of us. That 90-percent figure is actually a high number. I know a number of physicians and hospitals, especially in rural communities, that get reimbursed less than that. The ambulance services do not even get reimbursed enough from Medicare--these are volunteer ambulance services--to fill the ambulance with the gas for taking somebody the long distances from where they may have fallen and hurt themselves, broken a hip, to get them all the way to the hospital. This is across the board bad for America.

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