Friday, June 13, 2008

Chambliss Urges Bipartisan Medicare Solution for Doctors and Seniors

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today (June 12, 2008) took to the Senate floor to urge a bipartisan Medicare solution for doctors and seniors and expressed his opposition to S. 3101, a Medicare bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus, D- Montana, he says would negatively impact Georgia seniors. A procedural vote to begin debate on the bill received 54 votes, short of the necessary 60 votes required under Senate rules. Chambliss is supporting an alternative measure, the “Preserving Access to Medicare Act of 2008,” introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that would replace the scheduled physicians fee cut with a 1.1 percent increase but does not make drastic cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. Senate Democrats would not allow the Grassley legislation to be considered.

“While I am supportive of ensuring doctors receive adequate Medicare reimbursements so they can cover costs, I cannot support Senator Baucus’ legislation, which will expand entitlement programs and ultimately take money away from reimbursing doctors as we move on down the road. Now is not the time to expand entitlement spending when it is already out of control and unsustainable. This Medicare bill would drastically cut Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage saves beneficiaries an average of $86 per month compared to premiums in traditional fee-for-service Medicare, and 138,000 Georgians benefit from this program. Additionally, the president has threatened to veto the legislation and realistically we do not have enough time before the July1 deadline—even if this legislation had overwhelming support, which it does not—for this legislation to pass both houses, receive a veto from the president, and return for a veto override.

“While we need a more permanent solution so doctors don’t have to worry about having to lay off employees or denying Medicare patients altogether, it is important that we work in a bipartisan manner to reach a temporary solution for doctors’ reimbursements in the meantime. Doctors and seniors deserve a serious and responsible effort that addresses the impending fee cut without playing politics and creating a major expansion of entitlement spending. It is my hope that Congress will work toward a bipartisan agreement that will provide doctors with the relief they need before July 1.”

On December 18, 2007, Chambliss voted in favor of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-183). This legislation replaced the scheduled 10 percent fee cut with a 0.5 percent increase through June 30, 2008.

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