June 27, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today expressed disappointment in the unwillingness of Senate Democrats to work across the aisle and craft good legislation to prevent cuts in Medicare payments to physicians and ensure that Medicare beneficiaries continue to receive covered medical care. The legislation (H.R. 6331), which the Democrats finally put forward for a vote, is substantially similar to legislation (S. 3101) that Senate Democrats failed to get consensus to consider two weeks ago. President Bush has threatened vetoes on both versions of the Democratic bills. The motion to invoke cloture on the bill failed last night by a vote of 58-40.
“Oklahoma’s doctors and Medicare beneficiaries deserve better from Congress,” Senator Inhofe said. “With just days to go until the July 1st deadline, it makes absolutely no sense for the Democratic majority to bring forth legislation that was doomed from the beginning. Not only did the bill not gain enough support in the Senate, but the President had also promised to veto the bill. While many in Washington seem more interested in election year politics, it is simply irresponsible to delay action on this important issue because of political squabbling. In the end, it's the American people who will pay the price.
“Despite knowing that their bill was doomed from the start, Democrats still refused to allow consideration of a Republican alternative. Both bills provide the same update to physicians, a 0.5 percent increase for this year and a 1.1 percent increase for 2009. Yet the Republican bill goes even further to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to quality care. The bill addresses critical Medicare reimbursement rates, preserves Medicare Advantage coverage, continues and expands rural health programs, and maintains oxygen benefits, among other critical provisions ensuring Medicare beneficiaries continue to receive the benefits and care they need.
“There is absolutely no excuse for not coming together to reach a compromise on this important bill. The differences between the bills could have been quickly resolved. Unfortunately, it appears for Democrats that election year politics trumps good public policy.”