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Public Statements

Repealing Mandatory Funding for Graduate Medical Education

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Madam Chair, like my colleague from Georgia, I too was sitting back in my office. I saw the debate break out on the floor of the House on the Medicare proposal, the proposal to rescue Medicare from certain bankruptcy. And I wondered, because I sit on the Rules Committee, and the Rules Committee has one of the great pleasures of deciding what comes to the floor, how it comes to the floor and what goes on, and I knew that this wasn't Medicare reform day. This was the amendment by my colleague from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx) to protect life. It was an amendment to a bill brought to the floor by my colleague, Mr. Guthrie, which restores congressional oversight and regular order through the appropriations process, those things that I ran for Congress to do. And I rise in strong support both of the Foxx amendment and of Mr. Guthrie's underlying bill.

But when I heard this talk about Medicare and all the games and what has happened in the past, I have to say, I have only been here--this is, what, month number 5 for me. I'm still brand new, and I'm still optimistic enough to believe that it doesn't have to all be about sound bites, that it really can be about solutions.

And I want to say to my colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle, when you say that you came up with a proposal in the President's health care bill last year to deal with Medicare, I believe you. I take you at your word. I read through that, too. I saw that Medicare Advantage was removed as an option for seniors. That distressed me. I saw that new benefits, as Ms. Castor just referenced, had been added, Madam Chair, added to a program that's already going bankrupt. I saw that that is one direction that you can take the Medicare program.

Now I'm a proud member of the House Budget Committee, the House Budget Committee that worked hard and long to produce the Medicare reform proposal that we're talking about, oddly enough, here today. And it's a program that saves Medicare for everybody 55 years of age and under and provides them with choice.

I just want to tell a personal story. I don't consume a lot of health care. I've been very blessed in that regard. But I had to go in for a chest CT the other day. I have a medical savings account, so I'm responsible for the first couple of thousand dollars of my health care bill. So the first health care I consumed was my chest CT. I got on the Internet and started shopping around. It turns out that the difference between the cheapest chest CT and the most expensive chest CT in my part of Georgia is four times--four times. I got in the car. I drove across town and spent my $4 a gallon for gas to go get the cheap one. It turns out the really expensive one was right next door. I could have walked right next door.

Folks, when we talk about how we, we the United States Congress, we the U.S. House of Representatives voted to save Medicare in the 2012 budget proposal, we talked about saving it by providing choice. Again, my colleagues are exactly right. We did that in 1997. That was the debate, can we save Medicare in 1997 by providing more choice? Well, we succeeded with adding Medicare Advantage, but we didn't get much further than that. This is that next step. This is that next step because we know that choice matters. We know that choice matters.

The gentleman who held my seat and has been retired used to tell the story of his mother in upstate Minnesota, and every Tuesday she would go to the doctor with a group of friends just to make sure everything was okay, just to get checked out. She was on Medicare. One day, there was a terrible snowstorm in Minnesota. The winds were blowing and the snow was piling up. They all got together on Tuesday, and Edna wasn't there, and they began to get worried. They called around and they asked around. It turned out Edna just wasn't feeling well. She couldn't be there that day.

You make different choices when you're not responsible for the bills. And we do that over and over and over again. This isn't just a Medicare issue. This is a philosophical difference between these two sides of the aisle about what kind of an America we are going to live in going forward. Are we going to live in one where folks take care of you but they tell you the manner they're going to do it? Or do we live in one where we help you along but you get to make those fundamental choices for you?

It's clear to me why my constituents sent me to Washington as a first-time elected official this year. It's clear to me where the 2012 budget proposal takes this House and takes this country.

I implore my colleagues, we can absolutely argue about your plan as it was introduced in the President's health care bill and our plan as it was introduced in the fiscal year 2012 budget proposal, but let's not, let's not make it anything other than what it is. It's a difference in two visions. Yours saves Medicare for 6 years. Ours saves Medicare for a lifetime. And, Madam Chair, I think we owe the voters no less.


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