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tv   C-SPAN Weekend  CSPAN  December 6, 2009 6:00am-7:00am EST

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really complicated. it's people to sell health insurance. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. baucus: reserving the right to object. mr. baucus: reserving the right to object. za&d&,vg@@@@@ á@ b
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not $438 billion taken out of medicare and put into -- in to create a new entitlement program of $2.5 trillion. mr. mcconnell: i ask my friend one more question. is this the same bill that back in 2005 that my counterpart, the majority leader, decried as immoral? mr. mccain: as i recall, that's exactly it. i think the senator from new hampshire recalls that debate. mr. gregg: if the senator will yield. absolutely. i was chairman of the budget committee at the time. as the republican leader is alluding to, we attempted to reduce the rate of growth of medicaid by $10 billion on a a $1 trillion base over five years. less than .1% i believe it was. it was opposed aggressively by the aarp and it was opposed by the other side of the aisle. not one member of the other side of the aisle voted for that. and do you know what that change
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was going to be? it was going to require that wealthy people who benefited from the part-d drug benefit would have to pay part of their premium rather than getting it all for free. so that warren buffet, for example, would actually have to contribute to his health care drug benefit, assuming he is on part-d. maybe he isn't. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] >> we already know medicare is insolvent. yet we're going to take this money out of medicare, as the senator from arizona has pointed out, and we're going to fund a
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brand new entitlement. we're going to expand medicaid with this money and we're going to create an entitlement which has nothing to do with medicare. none of the people that will get this benefit have paid into the hospital truffs -- trust fund which is what funds medicare. i -- if there are going to be reductions in medicare, shouldn't it be to make medicare more solvent? >> one would think so. there are two doctors in the united states senate. there are lots of lawyers. there are two doctors. both have had hands-on experience. i don't know if doctor brasso has seen "the new york times", another one of my favorite sources of news and entertainment.
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on the front page this morm morning, home health care worries over proposed cuts. the purpose of reform, i understand by the other side, is to reduce health care costs. is there a way to reduce health care costs better than treating people at home than instead of in a hospital. i'm curious about your experience. >> as the senator from arizona knows, i've treated patients in wyoming for 25 years, and the story in the "the new york times" was a wonderful picture of bertha milliard, a 94-year-old woman who is very similar to the patients i've taken care of and the families in wyoming who depend on this. there is a picture of bertha greeting her nurse. her nurse is coming to check the medications she takes for chronic pain and heart failure and stroke.
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mrs. milliar says those visits have been effective in keeping her out of the hospital. but the home care that she receives could be altered according to the front page of "the new york times" under the legislation passed by the house and pending on the senate floor today. now, the legislation would reduce medicare spending on home health services, which is a lifeline for homebound medicare beneficiaries which keeps them out of hospitals and also out of nursing homes. so there you have it -- what could be better for our seniors than to have the dignity of being in our own home, someone coming into their home, and that will include physical care, occupational care, sometimes speech and language therapy, sometimes different medical services. that's where the care ought to be given, in the home.
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that's what we want for our seniors, dignity at home, to stay in surroundings. but we want that anot just for seniors like bertha, we want that for our nation, because this keeps down the cost of care. this bill does the opposite. that's why we need the amendment that says don't cut the medicare for our seniors. written today, by a wonderful world-class senator, money could be taken from medicare. and they are using it in a way that could make things worse for patients on medicaid. >> i'll yield to my colleague from arizona. >> if it is taken out of your time just exactly as you responded when someone was asked if you would yield a question
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from them yesterday. >> fine. >> is it taken out of your time? >> yes. >> i ask unanimous consent that the senator's question not be taken out of the time allotted to us. >> it will be -- it will not be. the senator from montana. >> the home care and hospice association, that's for home care and hospices, that's the umbrella for home care and hospices, wrote a letter to me? i won't read it all, but for all these provisions we relate to your health care legislation as it relates to home health care. are you aware that the home health care association supports this legislation? >> is the senator -- my response is, i don't know what their thinking is. i don't know what deal has been cut in senator reid's office as
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the deal was cut with the pharmaceutical companies and the deal was cut with the a.m.a. and a deal with cut with the hospital association, but i know what the effect is. the bill would slice -- >> mr. president, this is not coming out of my fime time because he's making a filibuster over there. >> the senate bill would take $43 billion. i don't know the details of the bill that was cut over where the white smoke comes out. i don't know what the deal was. i know what the deal was phrma -- they said they would oppose drug impour tation from -- importation from canada. they said it would not allow competition. i don't know what the deal was cut that bought them, but i know they are unsavory, and i know people like the lady that was
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just referred to, like bertha milliard, they are not too interested -- >> mr. senator -- >> i don't know what the deal was. >> i'm going to tell the senator the deal. >> the senator from arizona has the floor. >> i don't know what the deal was, but we'll wind out what the deal was. >> if the senator would yield i would say what the deal was. >> i can't walk through the halls here without -- >> would you like me to answer the question? >> i'd like to finish my answer to you, if i may. that is, i don't know what the deal was that was cut with them, but we'll find out what the deal was that was cut with them, and i know bertha milliard was not there when the deal was cut. >> will the senator yield for
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one more question? i'll yield for one more. >> does the senator know that the so-called deal was that where as medpac and the administration and the house wanted to make drastic cuts to the home health care that we went to the home health care industry, worked with them, and took two of their major suggestions about fraud and abuse and also outliers and we modified so that the home health industry felt this was reasonable? does the senator know this was -- this understanding was reached? >> my quick answer is, i don't know the people, but i know the people who see $43 billion cuts in funding to their business were not there when the lobbyists showed up. and we've already heard the stories of the meetings that you and the majority leaders have had with these people that say, get on board or when we go and shape the final parameters of
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this bill, we will hurt you. we know they have been threatened. >> i'm just wondering if that was the deal, and we know there are a lot of deals around here. i know the senator from arizona pays a fair amount of attention to earmarks, and i know we will get an amendment that listed all these various deals like the deal that exempted a few states, like the deals that got allegedly a few votes on the aisle so we could get the cloture on this deal we needed to proceed? didn't they know this money would go to benefit medicare recipients? if you're going to take $42 billion out of the money that goes to home health care, shouldn't it have gone to make this system and a little more solvent and make sure our seniors have a medicare system that's solvent rather than create a new entitlement? shouldn't that have been part of the deal?
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>> as is often said, it is what it is. >> the senator from georgia. >> i just want to add, if there was a deal made, it wasn't made with everybody. i have a letter dated december 4 from this year to me from the home health care association endorsing the amendment, so they must have not been part of the deal, and they represent georgia, and further, in here -- >> they will be up in senator reid's office very soon. >> they might be. they estimate 6,800 of the approved home health care agencies in georgia will go out of business. so if it was a deal, senator, it wasn't made with every state, because the state of georgia is on record -- and i ask that this be entered as part of the record. >> and if i could follow up on my colleague's comments about what is happening in georgia, i talked to one of the largest home health care providers in
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florida, and also we have a letter to the editor in the "sarah sarasota -- "sarasota tribune," "contrary to the other scenarios, this could be devastating for older florida -- floridians, nearly 60% of the home health agencies could be in the red." so we're going to take the 1.9 million small businesses and we're not going to take this money out? i want to make a point also in "the new york times," a good point was made, there will be no new insurance money coming in from home health care agencies, and it is not like there will be folks coming in that will have
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this new public option because home health care is for seniors. there is not going to be any extra money sofment what's going to happen? we're going to have our moms, our dads, our grandparents who are benefiting from this home health care in florida and across this country, instead of having to go into a nursing home or an assisted living facility away from their homes and family, and they will not be able to go anymore. by the way, i don't believe that's going to save any money. what i think that's really going to do is increase costs because we know nursing home care is far more expensive than home health care. it is estimated that one day of hospital costs, for example, is 43 times as much as home health care. so when you get rid of home health care, you are going to increase costs. i want to follow up on a comment to my friend from new hampshire, because i'm new here and i'm
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still understanding the ways of washington, d.c., but everyone needs to understand this bill is not going to help seniors at all. this bill takes money from seniors. if there was a legitimate effort to help seniors, we would take medicare savings and keep the money in medicare. as our leader said today, we're robbing the piggy bank. we're taking the money out of health care for seniors and putting it in this new bill. >> there are leaks all over this town, sometimes good news, sometimes bad news, but there was news that the senator from mont's staff called in all these -- montana's staff called in lobbyists and asked them not to meet with republicans. i hope it is not true. i think tfments senator from utah. >> i would say on the senators who have commented, home health care is not the only way seniors
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will be hurt by this. i'm quoting from an article by tom scolskl scully, who was one of the designers of the impact of this bill on medicare part d for seniors. let me quote the key parts of his article. i ask unanimous consent the entire article be included in the record. >> without objection. >> he said there is a little note of provision buried deep in both the house and senate reform bills that is intended to save billions of dollars but instead will hurt millions of seniors, impose new costs on taxpayers and charge employers millions in new taxes. here is the core of. he says, quote, this fall congressional staff looking for a new revenue source to pay for health care reform proposed eliminating the tax dedeductibility of the subsidy to employers. the proposed savings were estimated by congressional staff to be as much as $5 billion over the next decade.
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many employers will drop retiree drug coverage. clearly, many will. the result is, instead of saving money, the proposed revenue raiser will force medicare part-d costs to skyrocket, as employers drop retirees into the program." and he concludes with this comment: "there are many reasons to pass health care reform. there is no reason to hurt seniors, employers, and taxpayers in the process. businesses are struggling and the medicare trust funds have plenty of problems as it is. it makes no sense to make these problems worse." close quote. so now only are the programs going to be cut, but the drug costs are going to be dumped into the program with an increased number of people involved. you're going to see tremendous financial distortions, as a result of the passage of this bill. mr. mccain: i'd dwreeld for yield for a question from the
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senator from north carolina. and then the senator from tenton. mr. burr: i would make this point and ask this question: the senator set out this this debate and he targeted two things -- quoalt and savings. he assured the american people we were going to save health care and maintain quality. would it not be accurate to say that as you take moneyway from home health that, one, you remove from that population that tool that maintains disease, that keeps that from getting worse, and you chase seniors back to the hospitals for the services? so, one, the acoul acuity of the senior patient is much worse. two, the cost of the delivery of the sel service because by the time they hit the hospital it has deteriorated. so we don't decrease the costs. we increase it. from the standpoint of the quality, the outcome of the patient is worse because we put
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them in a hospital setting. is that not what we're trying to eliminate, i would ask the senator from arizona? mr. mccain: it seems to me. the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: the senator from arizona, i have been watching this, was in my office, and i'm having a hard -- mr. mccain: it is a fun, isn't it? mr. corker: it is a lot of fun. in fact, i would not want to be any other place than on the floor today talking about the most important piece of legislation we probably will deal with in our tenure here. and i -- mr. mccain: it is a principle that a fight not enjoin sad fight not enjoyed? mr. corker: i don't think i've ever seen us as happy as i have today in a fight against something that is devastating. senator, i don't understand what it is that would cause my friends on the left, on the other side of the aisle, to throw seniors under the bus and
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whether -- there's no doubt there ought to be some chings in medicare to -- some changes in medicare to make it more solvent. and all of us with a nts to ensure that seniors down the road have the ability to benefit from medicare. i think all of us have said from day one we want to join with senator gregg and others to make sure medicare is here for seniors. i don't understand, and i listened to the last segment, my friends on the other side of the aisle, talking about the many needs -- and there are needs in this country. there are many people that don't have health care insurance, and many of us have offered bills to solve that. i don't understand, though, and i hope you can explain it to me, why the body on the left would be willing to throw seniors under the bus -- and regardless of what you say about this bill, they are being thrown under the bus. doctors are going to get a 23% cut in a year, and they are not even dealing with that. taking $364 billion out of medicare.
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what is it that would drive our friends on the left that in the past have supported seniors but today are willing to throw seniors under the bus for a political victory? what is it that's driving that? i do not understand, and perhaps my other colleagues can explain it better. but i also want to return just for a second to the senator from mont's question, the a.m.a., that's a classic example. i go back to my home state of arizona, i talk to the providers and i say what's going on? you made a deal with the lobbyists. that's my answer to you. you made a deal with the lobbyists. not the home health care providers. not the nurses, not the doctors, not the people that are the users of pharmaceuticals that this year have seen an 8% to 9% increase in costs of prescription drugs because your deal is going to protect them. so my answer to you is, i don't know what you bought that letter for, but it probably was a
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pretty high price. >> would the senator let me answer the question. >> would the senator -- the senator from arizona has the florida. >> -- the senator from arizona has the floor. >> i do know the answer to it. i just gave you the answer. >> i will have to agree with my colleague from arizona and it is astonishing that the senator would read a letter from a national organization instead of one from his home state, because what i see is that some of these are in communities where people don't even have hospitals. we have colleagues on the floor here from rural states. montana is certainly one of them. those home health care agencies know they will not get enough money paid to them to get gas in the car to drive out to the ranches and the farms to the people trying to maintain their dignity and stay out of the
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hospitals. there are people that drive thousands of miles every year with the nurses going out with the home health care and the aids to help people stay at home and also allow them to keep down the cost of care for everyone. >> 20 minutes and 22 seconds. >> could i just mention very briefly, the salary of mr. william d. novelli, his salary last year was $1 mill 971 -- $1,971,000. scott serota of blue-cross/blue shield, $1.6 million. chicken feed. senator from utah. >> well, i thank the senator from arizona.
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my mind goes back to a personal experience that i had that i would like to share with my friends on the left. an entirely different bill. the bill was no child left behind. we were all for it on this side of the aisle because our president had proposed it, and my staffer said to me listening to the debate, you know, senator if president clinton had proposed it, you would vote against it because you would think it is too heavy handed government interference. and i said, you know, you are right, and i had to do the right thing, and i voted against it. if we had proposed what the democrats are proposing, every argument we are hearing would be coming with great roars and insistent statements on the other side of the aisle, but because it is their president
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who proposed it, they are somehow keeping their consciences under control here. i would hope that they would recognize the irony in that, and that at least one -- that's all we need in order to stop this bill -- at least one would recognize that conscience ute to prevail and this bill ought to be stopped. let us be clear, if this bill is stopped, health care reform will not die as a cause. indeed, health care reform will be reborn in a bipartisan sense of let's solve the problem rather than an impartisan sense of let's jam something down somebody's throats. and i hope that's what will happen, that conscience will prevail somewhere and one member of the democratic party who feels in his or her heart that this is a dumb idea will let his or her conscience prevail. >> would the senator yield for an thourgs?
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-- senator isakson pointed out where several people are on this bill, senator barasso many -- pointed out where the people are on this bill. i haven't seen a survey in months by anybody that indicates that the american people are for this bill. you know the argument they are making on the other side? ignore the american people. make history. "make" history? what i hear the american people saying to us is, volt for this bill and you'll be history. this is not in the gray area.
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the american people are asking us to stop this bill and start over. they don't want a 274-page of tax increases and higher premiums for everyone else. they want us to stop and start over and get it right. >> could i just ask the senator from new hampshire very quickly, is it your understanding that aarp does sell health insurance and wal-mart sells health insurance? >> both of those are correct. >> doesn't it make sense they would be included in the amendment to modfithe identify amendment of excessive remune racial -- remuneration?
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>> the following proposal is a blatant act to try to europeanize our process, but consistency would require that both of those organizations be included in that, if the author is going to be consistent with the theme of the amendment, which is wrong in my opinion. there is no reason that we as a congress should decide the compensation levels for people who are in the private sector. >> my youngest son was in a horrible accident in 19816789 he was hospitalized for eight weeks. he had four surgeries, developed an infection, had some bone marrow threats. he was put in home health care. and at a cost of just pennies on the dollar, a visiting nurse came and helped my wife and i
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offer p administer anti-body drips. the eight weeks he was in the hospital cost over $100,000. the eight weeks following that in home health care costs only a few thousand dollars. we're taking an agency and a service provided the american people that graste greatly reduces the -- that greatly reduces the cost of health care and forcing the only option for someone hurt like that to be in the hospital. now, granted he was president on medicare, but people in medicare will have the same type of thing hafplgt so the patent effect is, on the one hand you save money to pay for someone else's government-option health care, but you take away an affordable way to help health care to millions of americans. >> senator, i was thinking about
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last year's campaign, and you offered some solutions that were greatly malignsed -- maligned, and i wonder if our sitting president ran on a health care reform bill that took money out of medicare, hurt seniors through home health, making sure their doctors got a 23% cut in a year, he ran on a platform of health care reform that did that, had unfunded mandates to states, raised taxes, and told the american people while he was campaigning that their preemyumsyums were going to go up, i do wonder if the outcome would have been the same. as a matter of fact, i can't imagine a health care policy being presented that is more off base than the one we are presenting. it makes medicare insolvent, raises taxes and raises premiums. that's what we're discussing.
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why my friends on the other side want to give our president a victory on that is beyond my understanding. >> i thank the senator from tennessee, and i am very reluctant to take a trip down memory lane again, but can i just say, one of the phrases throughout the campaign, if you like the insurance policy you have now, you can keep it, you tell me how people who have medicare under this plan can keep it. it is impossible. maybe the other side is right. maybe these rucks have to be made. i don't happen to agree. although cost savings should be there. but no one can believe that you can keep the same medicare advantage that 11 million seniors have in america today under this proposal. it is impossible. senator? >> if the senator would would
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allow, i want to ask one question to my friend about infections in hospitals. my understanding is home health care is better for the efficacy of the treatment is because patients get staff -- staph infections. it is one of the leading causes of death in a hospital. you don't go in with an infection. you get it there. isn't this propose yag going to take people out of home health care and send them to hospitals, is it going to actually hurt patients? >> it is going to hurt patients. it is going to hurt people that come around to check on them. that's why for decades doctors
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have said try to help patients to get home as quickly as they can. that's the best place to heal. we heard from the senator about pennies on the dollar, the effectiveness of this. it is good for folks, it is good for the whole health care of our nation if we have people healing at home and not in the hospital. >> thanks to our crack staff who are a good example of the success of work-release programs. i would remind my friend, max baucus called a pre-emptive strike on wednesday with a group of democratic lobbyists warning them to advise their clients not to attend a meeting for senate republicans set for thursday. russell sullivan, baucus chief of staff, met with a block of 20 members of staff including
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several baucus aides who have made a nice transition, and they said you have to let your clients know if they have someone there, it will be viewed as a democratic act said a democratic lobbyist who attended the meeting. going will say i'm interesting in working with republicans to stop health care reform, the lobbyist added. and phrma, the new york sometimes, again, my favorite, we need tauzin -- tauzin, the $5 million per year representative of phrma -- if you -- who is ever going to get into a deal with the white house again if they don't keep their word? they are just going to duke it out instead. they cut a deal. so that's, again, an answer to the senator from montana. that's probably how he got the letter, the same way tauzin wrote his letter. minority leader.
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senator, do you have anything? >> i have never had so many people spontaneously stop me in the airport and say, please stop this bill. i'm sure there are people in kentucky who are for it. i have not met one. there must be a doctor in kentucky who is for this. i have not heard from one. this is an incredibly unpopular bill.
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this is an act of total arrogance. we just need one democratic senator to say no. no, i'm not going to do this. i know the president would like me to make history, but this is wrong for the country. just one can make a difference. >> thank you, senator. >> "the washington post" talking about aarp, said the group collected royal tease and fees last year from the sale of policies, credit cards, and other products that carry the aarp name.
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>> the aarp executive would naturally fall under the lincoln amendment? >> absolutely, because it says a majority that the $1.4 billion in revenues, according to the tax records, were made up of the sale of these insurance products. >> i think the senator from north carolina made an excellent point. consistency would require that aarp would be included in this amendment if the amendment goes forward. i hope the amendment doesn't pass, but clearly it should be significant. it was not scapt because of some deal that was cut. would that be the implication here? >> the senator from utah? >> senator mccain, if i might interrupt, if i might ask unanimous consent to consider the consolidated financial statements of aarp. they are the fifth largest insurance sales in the country.
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>> without objection. >> mr. president, i have enjoyed this con colloquy. i have enjoyed the enthusiasm that's here. i've noticed that the sense of passion to get something done properly for the american people is on this side of the aisle. and a great sense of defensiveness is on the other side of the eel -- aisle. we all have been caught at one time or another in the struggle between support of a leadership position or a presidential position and our own sense of what is the right thing to do. and i join with my leader from kentucky in saying that the people of utah have never been more worked up about any issue than this one. i have never seen any circumstance where they have been more firm and unanimous in their demand that this bill be stopped.
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the senator from kentucky has said -- i have met some people in utah who are for this bill, and they have spoken to me about it as i pass through airports or as i pass down the street in the hearing of other people from utah. and as soon as anybody hears someone tell me vote for this bill, there is a chorus of voices spontaneously come up around that and say, don't listen to him, listen to us. this is a terrible bill. this is a terrible circumstance. i live in utah and a dartmouth study indicates if everyone got their health care there it would be cheaper than the national average. i have spent a lot of time
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talking to the people that provide that result. unanimously they tell me this bill would damage that result. it would damage the quality and it would raise the price. why in the world would we want to do those two things? >> dr. brasso from wyoming. >> it has been a privilege to take of patients for the last 25 years, and this bill is going to hurt them, it is going to hurt the future of care, it is going to hurt medicine in america. you cannot take $364 billion, a program that the seniors of this country depend upon, and say that it won't affect their care. it will. it will affect them in the hospitals. it will affect them in the doctor's offices, it will affect them in home, and it will affect them in the final days of their life in the hospices. that's what i hear about from across wyoming. i have not met doctors who support this, not at all. i have not very many patients
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who support this. they are told by others we don't want thsm the town meetings have been overwhelming in opposition. this is a bill that will be bad for our small businesses. it will be bad for people who want to get insurance, it will be bad for people who have insurance because they know their premiums are going to go up. it is going to be bad for people that pay taxes because those are going to go up. specifically for home health care, this is going to be awful. it is going to affect people in all communities across america, not just in wyoming. i can't imagine anyone in a small community being for this. >> put more people in the hospital. senator? >> senator, i have been listening to this debate and it is seldom that debates on the floor have much impact on me, but i do think the lincoln amendment is a terrible amendment. we should not be voting on compensation. i wonder, senator, if we should offer a unanimous consent agreement to change the amendment to take into account
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our -- aarp and phrma and others. i wonder if you would be willing to take that under unanimous consent. >> not to mention the chief executives of the parm pharmaceutical companies. why wouldn't we want to bring them in? after all thers they are paying their lobbyists millions of dollars every year to cut the deals they talk about on the front of "the new york times." i hope the senator would be happy to look at these also. again i refer to the new york sometimes -- refer to the "new york times". >> the senator from arizona state thd case very well and it will continue to be stated. they are cutting medicare to fund a new government program.
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they are taxing the american people through drugs and devices and their own insurance policy needs more money so the government can have a larger hand in health care. at the end of the day, the american people realize now they are going to pay more and the quality of their health care is going to go down. it is no more obvious than the current amendment on slashing money to nursing homes or hospice or any other program under medicare. this is wrong, it should be stopped, and the american people's voice should be heard in this debate. i thank the gentleman. >> it has been a great time and we are going to do it again a lot between now and the time when the vote is forced. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> mr. president. >> senator from arkansas. >> well, thank you, mr. president. i am very proud to come and join in this debate on an issue that i think is critical to all
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arkansans and all of america. i want to congratulate chairman baucus, because as we talk about this issue in terms of health care areform, clearly our delivery system in health care is broken. we have the best doctors and hospitals and research in all of the world, yet our delivery system is broken. for the last 24 months, the senate finance committee has held hearings, roundtables, summits, all kinds of different delibtive -- deliberative efforts, advocacy groups on behalf of patients, anybody that would come to the table to talk about how is it that we reform this system and make it better for the constituents that we serve? i applaud him in the work he does there. so for anyone that says we're jumping in here and moving too
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fast, you know, i have tremendous respect for the minority leader from kentucky. my husband trained at kentucky, did his sub speciality there, and his admiration for one of those he trained with, the good friend, senator mcconnell, but the minority leader's comment that we're just saying to our constituents, sit down and shut up, i just -- again, i like the comment from the senator from tennessee that we're throwing seniors under the bus. we're in a body to be respectful of one another. respectful of our approaches of how we answer these questions. and the senator from massachusetts brings up a great point. where are the suggestions from the other side of how we solve this? are they going to come to the table with ideas of how we do something other than just going
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with the status quo? we're not throwing them under the bus, we're trying to figure out how is it that we preserve medicare? how do we make the difference in the delivery system so we bring down those long-term costs in health care so that we can actually preserve the programs that work and that are so meaningful to people in their lives? i would just say that as we come to this debate, i hope we will continue to -- the age-old attitude in the united states senate of being respectful of one another's views and one another's efforts in trying to bring about something that is going to be helpful. not throwing people under the bus, not telling constituents to sit down and shut up, but actually working hard to come up with some solutions.
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senator mccain was calling a lot of people in arkansas. my mother was one of those he tried to get in touch with. to try and tell them, there's something wrong with. i certainly visit with my mom a lot and hear about her experiences and the system she has a, and i am proud i live in a country that provides her that kind of care. she does believe strongly in some of the things she's seen in her medicare bill, inefficiencies that quob changed, ways we could make it a better program. so i hope we will all come to the table here with good ideas and ways that we really can make a difference. i notice that there was a -- an effort or a concern about wanting to add people to my amendment. i would welcome the republicans, if they would like to offer suggestions. i've worked on my amendment.
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i like my amendment the way it is. i think it focuses on industries whose sole purpose is to provide health insurance. so if they want to -- focusing on those businesses whose only purpose is to provide health insurance for the people of this country. i would just use an example of an article that came out yesterday. it represents basically one of our larger national insurance companies that are working hard, i think, at least i hope they are, to do what's right, and yet i look that they are going to be dumping 600,000-plus customers because they don't think their profits are big enough. yet i look at the record, and i believe that their c.e.o. actually, in 2008, made over $24 million.
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now, if they can pay their top executives $24 million last year but they are going to complain their profits are not big enough that they have to dump patients, i would just ask my colleagues where do we go to correct this imbalance if it is not too a very [applause]ible amendment that -- it certainly doesn't restrict the pending amendment, which is mine, it doesn't restrict what industries, corporations, can provide or give their executives in pay. what it does do, it says that we are not going to subsidize that with tax dollars. the very american taxpayers they are dumping are the uns ones that subsidize those incredible tax amounts. i would say to my friends over there, i have to say, those over there defending the status quo on behalf of health insurance companies and executives that are receiving these
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multi-million dollar compensation packages, you know, it took nine of them at one time, so it is a tough lift to be able to defend these executive compensations for insurance company executives, or otherwise nine of them wouldn't have been down here trying to shift the conversation to something else. , that the american people do understand that that is out of balance and that here we are with an opportunity to provide these insurance companies ven more customers, we just simply want to be reassured that we are not through taxpayers' dollars subsidizing these enormous executive amounts, compensation amounts, and more importantly that the savings that come from that are going to go into the medicare trust fund to shore it up. so i just -- i appreciate everyone's debate and their efforts to come to the floor today and really talk about a critical issue to folks. you know, i just would remind again, mr. president, all of my
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colleagues, current law allows all businesses, all businesses to deduct up to $1 million annually per executive as a business expense. that's a million dollar tax break per executive per company that is subsidized by the taxpayers, and there's multiple more ways that they can obviously provide greater compensation, and there's lots of loopholes in there that allows them to again get tax subsidies for more compensation for their executives, but my proposal would limit this amount to $400,000, the very amount that the highest public official in this land gets paid, the president, a $400,000 salary for those health insurance companies that will profit, they will profit, mr. president, as a result of the health insurance reform. because our objective is to get more people insured. and so working diligently through all of these
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technicalities, trying to get more people insured, we are creating a new marketplace for them with more consumers, a tremendous amount. but this is only in regard to health insurance companies. it doesn't dictate again what a business can pay an employee, but it does limit the taxpayer subsidies for the compensation. this is a fair policy, mr. president. it's aimed at encouraging our insurance companies to put premium dollars toward lower rates and more affordable coverage, not into their pocketbooks. they are complaining about profits and yet they are still paying these executives a tremendous amount of money. to be sure, there is evidence these companies need the encouragement to do the right thing for consumers. where health insurers spent more than 90 cents per every dollar on patient care in the early 1990's, that number has decreased to just over 80 cents per dollar for every dollar.
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now, for every dollar they spend, only 80 cents of it goes back into their efforts to provide coverage for their -- their consumers. and that is in 2007. those are the numbers that we have. according to the testimony delivered to the senate commerce committee earlier this year, this trend has translated into a difference of several billion dollars in favor of insurance company shareholders and executives at the expense of health care providers and their patients. so it is imperative that we do what we can to reverse that trend, particularly now when millions more americans will be purchasing their health insurance coverage as a result of this health reform package. taxpayers are -- are footing the bill for this subsidy, and we must take steps to deter the health insurance companies from hurt enhancing their profit margins at the expense of the american people.
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those defending the status quo, again, i just want to point out that we had a lot of senators that came to the floor this morning on the republican side to defend the status quo on behalf of the health insurance companies and their executives that are receiving these multimillion-dollar compensation packages. i would just say that maybe they don't understand that under that current law right now, the american people are already footing the bill for this tax windfall for health insurance executive pay. so as we move forward, it's just going to be a greater benefit to those executives, and the ability for these insurance companies to be able to do that. we want to keep those insurance companies in business. we want to make sure that they are there as providers. but it's just a disconnect when they say they have got to cut 600,000 of their insured under the current system because their profits aren't high enough, and yet they are paying their top executive a $24 billion
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compensation package that is subsidized by the taxpayers. so i just hope that we will work together to figure out what is the right place to be here, if what we want to do is to really make sure that we' to really make sure we're reforming health care and we're asking everyone to come to the table and make an effort in putting ourselves back on track because ultimately we want to make sure a new reformed health insurance and health care providing delivery system can provide. but we also want to make sure that we strengthen our economy in making sure that we make use -- good use of every medical dollar, that we're getting the biggest bang for that buck. it is a critical part of putting our economy back on track. the assumption that's been based on the other side, i think has been basically based on -- also, mr. president, is based on the current marketplace where people bully customers and monday op
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lies their choices. -- monopolize their choices. i have a neighbor, a hard-working woman, a single mom, can't get insurance because of a preexisting condition. you know, i have others who had insurance, and when they did get ill, they got dropped. we look at this in the context not in the terms of the broken marketplace we see today, but that is in terms of a robust marketplace. that's in terms for consumers as well. with insurance reforms we plan to implement along with more consumer choices, these insurance companies are going to have to work to keep up with the business they have and be able to be there for future customers. i don't think i will get
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disagreement from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that competition is to let those who have that trep neural spirit who want to provide a product at a reasonable cost to be an active part of the marketplace. that's what we're trying to encourage in this. mr. president, the amendment i'm offering today would set the dededuction cap at the highest-paid government official. it is estimated to pay $158 million over 10 years and will place these savings in the medicare trust fund to further strengthen the solencey of that -- sol conveniencey -- solvency of that fund. owe will h will -- we want desperately to fund our seniors. we know there are many programs that are over-subsidized. that means some are having to pay for the outrageous subsidies in these other programs. we want to make sure we bring them to balance, mr. president,
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and bring a better system for everybody out there. that means bringing down long-term costs, it makes making sure we are protecting medicare for all seniors. it means we do it in a deficit neutral way which we have done in this other bill, and it means we work to put our best foot forward in bringing about partnerships fwen between states and federal governments as well as with providers. so the choice is simple. either you support the money being placed in the medicare trust fund or you support sending it to subsidize the multi-million dollar salaries they are paying in their taxes. i urge my colleagues to support this on behalf of taxpayers and
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seniors and to vote for this amendment which i feel has been structured in a very fair way. >> "washington journal" is next. we'll take your questions and comments. earlier this week, president obama announced deployment of 30,000 new troops. on "newsmakers," senator jack reed. later, be an afghanistan hearing. >> this morning author charles stevenson talks about how the war is financed in his book "congress at war. " then more on president obama's decision to send more troops to afghanistan with scott wilson of "the washington post." also a look at


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