July 15, 2008
"I have repeatedly expressed disappointment about severe cuts to the Medicare Advantage Program, in which almost 75,000 Oklahomans are enrolled. The $14 billion cuts to this program imposed by this legislation over the next ten years will hit seniors in rural areas the hardest.
"Further, as a member of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, I fought to ensure Oklahomans and rural America receives the best possible health care. To improve this bill, I fought to include provisions for ambulance payments in rural areas supported by local ambulance service providers in Oklahoma, additional payments for rural home health services, and support for our rural hospitals, such as clinical diagnostic lab services and skilled nursing care at our critical access hospitals.
"While I fought hard to get more done for Oklahoma doctors and Medicare recipients, I am glad to see that the bill continues funding for the Special Diabetes Programs requested by the Oklahoma Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, continues outpatient physical therapy funding under Medicare, and expands the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (FLEX) grant program, which provides support for Critical Access Hospitals that care predominately for rural areas.
"As in every election year, a lot of political rhetoric is thrown around in an attempt to confuse voters. Let me set the record straight. I am proud of my long record of support of physicians continuing to get reimbursement for treating Medicare patients. I could not in good faith support a bill that I didn't believe did enough for Medicare Recipients and doctors in Oklahoma and I cast my vote against the override."