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This morning, FreedomWorks joined a coalition made up of 20 groups representing the concerns of millions of Americans and also sent a KEY VOTE notice to Senators on Capitol Hill asking them to vote "NO" on cloture for S. 1776, the Medicare Physician Fairness Act of 2009. Cloture is a process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end in order to bring the actual legislation to a vote.
Apparently lawmakers got the message because this afternoon a bipartisan majority of Senators rejected cloture for legislation that would have added nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars to the national deficit over the next 10 years. Introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), S. 1776 would have spent an additional $247 billion in taxpayer money on reimbursements for physicians through Medicare. While--under the proper circumstances-- a "doc fix" such as this has some merit as a means of keeping physicians from abandoning the Medicare program, S. 1776 contained no spending reductions to offset its considerable cost. A "yes" vote would have required Senators to vote to waive their own budget rules which are intended to protect taxpayers. Even worse, the bill brought forth by Democratic leadership would have served as a deceptive way of reducing the perceived cost of future health care reform legislation.
On October 7th, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of one such piece of legislation. The so-called "Baucus bill" received a 10-year cost estimate of $829 billion. It owes its score, in part, to the reduction of $200 billion in physician reimbursements through Medicare that exist within the legislation. The savings in the Baucus plan are almost the exact equivalent of the cost of S. 1776. The passage of S. 1776 would have negated reductions in the Baucus plan without adding to the perceived cost of reform. This deception explains why the Baucus proposal was estimated to cost less than a trillion dollars and also why it was estimated to reduce the deficit.
Splitting higher reimbursements into a separate piece of legislation was an underhanded attempt by Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democratic leadership to deceive Americans about the true cost of their health care overhaul. Thankfully, Senators from both sides of the aisle joined together in a bipartisan effort to prevent cloture of S. 1776. After today's crucial vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say:
In the Senate’s first vote on health care spending this year, a bipartisan majority rejected the Democrat Leadership's attempt to add another quarter trillion dollars to the national credit card without any plan to pay for it. With a record deficit and a ballooning national debt, the American people are saying enough is enough. Today's vote shows that this message is finally starting to get through to Congress. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come in the health care debate ahead.