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Public Statements

Recognition Of The Minority Leader

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I thank the ranking member on the Finance Committee for allowing me to speak for a few minutes to simply respond to some of the statements, just as Dr. Coburn has done, that were made earlier.

My friend from Massachusetts, whose heart, I know, is in the right place, talked about the AMA, as if it were the last word in the medical arena, being in support of this bill.

Well, Dr. Coburn is a practicing physician, and he can speak to this maybe even better than I can, but what we know is that the AMA represents 10 percent of the practicing physicians in America--10 percent. That means 90 percent of the docs in America do not belong to this group that sent this letter in support of the Senate bill.

I speak to this with authority because my phones have been ringing off the hook since this debate started months ago--the calls coming in from docs around the State of Georgia, who are violently opposed to the Senate bill--as it was being discussed and as it came out of the closed-door session that took place across the hall after the leadership in the Finance Committee, after the leadership in the HELP Committee could not agree on the direction on which we want to go.

The Senator from Massachusetts said we are here scaring seniors. Well, I hope we are. Seniors ought to be scared. They ought to be scared to death of what is going to happen here because we are taking almost $500 billion out of Medicare, a program that a bipartisan Medicare Commission has said is going broke. And the Senator recognized this: It is going broke. We are taking $500 billion out of it. Whether you agree or disagree that the cuts in Medicare proposed by the Democrats are legitimate, we ought to be taking that money and putting it back into Medicare to save that program for the long term.

The Senator from Tennessee asked the right question to the Senator from Montana, and he took 10 minutes responding to the question. And Dr. Coburn is right, he did not answer the question. There is a good reason why he did not answer the question. Because there is no legitimate answer to taking this $500 billion out of Medicare and creating an entirely new entitlement program that in and of itself is destined to go broke.

If seniors are not scared by what we are saying, simply go to your doctor. Go to your doctor and ask your doctor about this.

I know what happens to patients, Medicare patients who go to physicians who are generally in the range of 45 years or younger. Those physicians are not taking additional Medicare patients or any Medicaid patients because they can't afford it. The reimbursement rates to the physicians are less than the cost of the services they render.

The Senator from Montana said: Well, we understand that, yes; there is $250 billion in reimbursements over the next 10 years that we need to take care of. And we are going to take care of. And I appreciate that because we need to. But it is in the House bill, and the House bill is $1.2 trillion. It is not in this bill, other than the 1-year fix the Senator alluded to. That is the reason the House bill is $1.2 trillion and this bill is about $800 billion. That is the sole difference in the two, basically.

But we are coming back, and in addition to the $800-plus billion expenditure in this bill, we still have a hole to be filled to try to take care of these docs or there is going to be a wholesale refusal on the part of the medical community to see Medicare patients. That should scare seniors. So I hope that message is getting out there.

I wish to close with one other response to my friend from Massachusetts who said the National Association for Home Care and Hospice is the leading organization in America in dealing with this issue, and we ought to listen to them. Let me tell my colleagues what they say about what is going on in my State.

I quote from a letter that has already been introduced dated December 4 from the Georgia Association for Home Health Agencies. In this letter the executive director says:

According to a study conducted by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, under Senator Reid's bill, 72 percent of home health agencies in Georgia will have negative margins by 2016 in the Senate bill and approximately 68 percent of the 100 Medicare Certified home health agencies in Georgia will go out of business and the patients they serve will be rehospitalized or forced to seek alternative more costly care.

Well, I don't know how it is in the other 49 States, but I want to see our patients, our Medicare patients in Georgia, do what they want to do, which is stay at home for the most part and receive the good home health care they are getting today which, frankly, allows them to live a better quality of life and a longer life. It is pretty obvious----

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. From this letter that is not going to happen.

I yield back, and I thank the ranking member.


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