Friday, May 24, 2024

Kennedy: Democrats killed Republican attempt to protect Medicare

by BIZ Magazine

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor refuting Pres. Biden and Democrats’ claims that Republicans wish to cut Medicare and entitlements. Kennedy’s speech comes after Biden’s repeated comments falsely accused congressional Republicans of aiming to cut Medicare.

“The fact that the president is saying this and saying, ‘Well, you Republicans want to hurt Medicare,’ . . . I find to be quite ironic . . . maybe even a tad hypocritical,” Kennedy began.

In December 2022, Kennedy attempted to pass his Protecting Medicare Patients and Physicians Act through the Senate by unanimous consent. The bill would have protected patients and health care providers from a total of 8.5 percent in planned Medicare cuts to physician reimbursements, but Democrats immediately blocked the bill.

“A lot of physicians won’t take Medicare anymore. Because they say . . . ‘We can’t turn a profit. We’re not looking to make,’ say the physicians, ‘obscene profits, but . . . we’re in the middle of inflation. . . . We’re paying more in rent. We’re paying more for our nurses. We’re paying more for supplies, and the Medicare fees that were paid to treat folks on Medicare . . . they’re not keeping up,’” continued Kennedy.

“And, so, President Biden, ‘the champion of Medicare,’ . . . proposed a four-and-a-half percent across the board cut for every physician treating Medicare in America—that’s 900,000 people in my state . . . in the middle of raging inflation.”

Kennedy offered a plan to protect the people who rely on Medicare and the doctors who take care of them—without taking another dime from taxpayers. His bill would have put unused Covid money from the Provider Relief Fund to use, requiring no new federal spending.

“I didn’t come to my colleagues with just a problem. I came with a solution. . . . I’m not suggesting that we reject President Biden’s attempt to cut Medicare and fill the hole by borrowing the money,” Kennedy explained.

Ultimately, no Republicans blocked Kennedy’s bill, but a Democratic senator did.

“I went to every one on my Republican colleagues, and they all said, ‘We’re with you.’ I came to this floor to ask for unanimous consent, but Senator Wyden came to the floor and said, ‘I’m going to object to your bill.’ And he said, ‘I don’t want you to worry about this. We’re putting together a budget bill right now—we call it the omnibus—and that’s why I’m objecting to your bill. Your bill, Kennedy, is unnecessary.’”

That omnibus spending package, which Kennedy voted against, included a two percent cut in reimbursements for every physician who treats a Medicare patient in America.

“The president can try and blame the Republicans and say, ‘Well, they don’t want to seriously negotiate about controlling spending, controlling debt. All they want to do is cut Medicare.’ He already did it—he did it in December,” Kennedy concluded.

Background:

Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services establishes a Physician Fee Schedule, which sets out how much a doctor gets paid for a particular service rendered. Kennedy’s legislation would have protected patients and health care providers from a total of 4.5 percent in planned Medicare cuts to physician reimbursements.

The bill would have required no new federal spending, but, instead, would have employed unused Covid money from the Provider Relief Fund that had been returned to the Department of Health and Human Services. Using those leftover funds to help patients and doctors who are suffering under the Biden administration’s historic levels of inflation would have represented a fiscally responsible solution to help vulnerable Americans.

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

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