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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the chairman, and I thank the gentleman from Georgia for his legislation to make a 1 percent reduction. We have got to start taking these first steps.

Year after year, I feel there is a group of us that come down here talking about how we slow the growth of government, talking about how we make reductions in what the government spends and talking about the necessity to begin with those little, tiny savings, 1/4 percent, 1/2 percent, a solid percent, that will yield a savings. We are talking about $5.5 million. I find it just amazing that we can't even find $50,000 in there. We can't agree to make that kind of reduction. There are ways to do this. That is something government should be doing.

The gentleman from Wisconsin mentioned the SCHIP program. Indeed, in our Committee on Energy and Commerce, we have been quite disheartened that the SCHIP bill that he mentioned is not going through regular order. We didn't have a committee hearing in our Health Subcommittee. We would have welcomed that.

There is nobody against health care for low-income children. What we have great concerns about is all the other stuff, all the pay-fors that are in this bill, all the expansion of policy, taking a block grant, moving it to an entitlement. It brings us back to the initial question with the gentleman's bill on this appropriations bill of making a 1 percent reduction. There has to be a way to yield a savings that will pay for some of these things, because we can't take it out of Medicare Advantage.

The SCHIP legislation that the gentleman mentioned would make an incredible reduction to Medicare Advantage. My goodness, we would see $193 billion in reductions to our Medicare Advantage program over a 10-year period of time, which would be $15.3 billion in cuts to Medicare Part A for seniors. This would include skilled nursing facilities, rehab facilities, and long-term care hospitals. That would be one of the pay-fors in the SCHIP bill that the gentleman referenced.

That is why the gentleman from Georgia has a great amendment that says, let's get going. In title 1, page 1 of this bill, let's start finding a way to make some reductions. $9.6 billion in cuts to Medicare Part D for seniors is in that bill, that SCHIP bill that didn't go through subcommittee, didn't get a complete markup in committee. It is going to be moved to the floor.

So, there, again, the gentleman from Wisconsin's points on this bill is the reason we have this amendment to title 1, section 1 of this bill, to make that reduction in the Secretary's spending, $5.5 million. Certainly, we can find $50,000. $3.6 billion would be cut out of end-stage renal disease in that bill. There has to be a way to start making reductions so that you're paying for the government that you are trying to spend, the money you are trying to spend, the government you are putting out there. There has got to be a way to pay for this. Unfortunately, that is not something that we are seeing considered.

Mr. Chairman, $50,000 may not be much to the Secretary, but it is a lot to my constituents in Tennessee and especially those that are on Medicare Advantage.


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