Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014—Motion to Proceedby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2014-02-25
McCONNELL. Mr. President, late last week the Obama administration
proposed yet another round of drastic cuts to a popular Medicare
program used by millions--millions--of American seniors. Not
surprisingly, they did it quietly, in the hopes that these latest cuts
to Medicare Advantage would somehow get lost in what folks around here
call the ``Friday news dump.'' But the American people are not easily
The far left has always hated Medicare Advantage. It is a program that offends them ideologically because it offers more market-based choices to seniors than traditional Medicare. But the left's prodding is not the only reason the Obama administration has already cut this successful program so deeply, and why now it plans to cut it even deeper.
The hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of cuts that Washington Democrats want to impose on Medicare Advantage--cuts that will cause millions of seniors to lose access to doctors and face higher premiums--are basically all to fund ObamaCare.
Some folks might describe this as ``robbing Peter to pay Paul.'' But I have a better analogy: It is like ripping parts off a Cadillac to patch up a Pinto. America's seniors actually understand this.
Our constituents like--they like--the choices Medicare Advantage offers. And they do not like ObamaCare. That is why seniors from all across Kentucky have written to protest this misguided policy.
Jack and Alda Rice from Fairdale wrote that Medicare Advantage has been there for them when they needed it, and that it is ``tough for seniors to have to find new doctors, especially for those who live in rural areas. It means traveling greater distances and spending more on gas.'' ``It is a sad thing,'' they wrote, ``when good doctors leave a plan because of funding cuts.'' Ronald and Linda Baynum from Edgewood wrote that they ``[found] it appalling'' that money that was put away for senior citizens is now being used for things like ObamaCare. ``It seems like most politicians are only working for themselves instead of the people,'' they wrote.
Well, look, they have every right to be frustrated. I mean, why on Earth would we want to ruin one program that is helping people in order to fund another that is causing them so much pain? The question answers itself.
That is why I, along with Senators Cornyn, Thune, Barrasso, Moran, and Blunt sent a letter to the administration today--to express our deep concerns with these proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage and other proposals that would increase premiums, reduce choices, and cause America's seniors to lose access to the health plans they were promised they could keep. Our letter asks the administration to act within the bounds of the law to limit the negative impact these misguided policies would have on seniors.
It is notable that even some of our friends on the other side of the aisle seem to understand the pain all of this is causing. That is why 19--19--Senate Democrats recently signed a bipartisan letter with 21 Republicans that called on the administration to mitigate the impact of these cuts to Medicare Advantage. We appreciate Democratic support on any issue. It is good when they acknowledge the senselessness of cutting one successful program to fund a failed one, of cuts that will make it even harder for America's seniors to keep the benefits, plans, and doctors of their choice. But, frankly, it is hard to believe they are really being serious on this one. That is because nearly every one of these Senators voted for ObamaCare, the very law that imposed the same cuts they are now railing against. Nearly every single one of them voted later to keep these cuts in place.
Senator Hatch proposed an amendment that would have reversed ObamaCare's cuts to Medicare Advantage. It only failed because nearly every Democratic Senator voted against it. So Washington Democrats had their chance for a mulligan. They took a pass. They actually cannot have it both ways. Signing on to some letter will not absolve them of responsibility now. It will not erase the fact that even when they were given a second chance to help American's seniors, many voted a second time to take a whack at Medicare.
Let's not forget that these folks and their allies are basically the same ones--the very same ones--who promised up and down that Americans could keep their health care plans that they had and they liked, under ObamaCare--a promise that was voted the ``Lie of the Year'' in 2013. So Americans are not about to be taken in on the latest ObamaCare spin.
Let's be honest. The only realistic solution is to undo the damage altogether by starting over with real reform. That means replacing [[Page S1013]] ObamaCare and its more than $700 billion in Medicare cuts--cuts imposed solely to fund ObamaCare--and replacing that with bipartisan reforms that can actually help struggling middle-class Americans.
I urge the Democrats to follow the lead of one prominent Senate Democrat who said just the other day he would vote tomorrow--vote tomorrow--to repeal ObamaCare. If he is serious about what he said, that means he is finally listening to the American people instead of the party bosses in Washington. If more of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle would only do the same, we could finally move forward with real patient-centered health reform; we could finally do away with the practice of raiding Medicare to fund ObamaCare; we could finally be done with the hurt this law is imposing on men and women all across our country--college graduates, moms, dads, small business women, constituents who struggle every day just to get by, and, of course, millions, literally millions of seniors. Republicans are on their side. We agree with them that ObamaCare is a law that just does not work, and we agree with them that now is not the time to impose higher costs and reduce choices for senior citizens, as the partisan ObamaCare law proposes.
I know the authors of this law may have had good intentions, but now is the time for them to admit past mistakes and to work with Republicans in a bipartisan fashion to remedy these errors before even more people get hurt by ObamaCare.
I yield the floor.