Kyl Introduces Measure Protecting Health-Care Access for Seniors, Baucus Strikes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) today introduced a measure to strike the parts of the Baucus health-care bill that would reduce Medicare benefits for the nation’s seniors. Kyl made the following statement shortly before Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mo.) used a procedural maneuver to strike down the measure:

“A lot of America’s seniors are worried that portions of this bill would adversely affect their medical care. Title III does, in fact, dramatically and significantly impact their care.

“The chairman’s mark takes $400 billion from Medicare. Let me let these numbers speak for themselves: $210.9 billion in cuts to hospitals, nursing homes, home health, and hospice. What senior wouldn’t be concerned that cutting over $210 billion in payments to hospitals and nursing homes might not adversely affect his or her care?

“Then there’s $113 billion in cuts to private Medicare plans, known as Medicare Advantage. We know from Dr. Douglas W. Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, that about 20 percent of America’s seniors who currently rely, or would rely, on coverage by Medicare Advantage plans won’t have that coverage because of these cuts.

“I think it’s disingenuous to say that Congress can cut this much spending from Medicare without having an adverse affect on seniors’ access to health care. It’s absolutely counterintuitive.

“I am very much supportive of improving Medicare solvency. Of course, if we could do that, we should apply the savings that are achieved, if there are any, back to Medicare. We shouldn’t go buy someone else insurance with that money and leave Medicare in the financially strapped condition it is in. Medicare savings should be used to preserve and strengthen Medicare, not to pay for a new entitlement program.”