Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- Colloquy on Health Care Reform

Posted on March 24, 2010

Mr. ALEXANDER. If I might ask a question of the Senator from New Hampshire, the President's budget said it would cost $371 billion over 10 years to properly pay for doctors who see Medicare patients. I believe the Congressional Budget Office says the number was over $250 billion. Can you imagine a comprehensive health care bill that improves Medicare without paying doctors to serve Medicare patients? Can you then explain to me how you can possibly say the bill does not add to the Federal deficit if it does not include paying doctors to serve Medicare patients?  

Mr. ALEXANDER. I wonder if I might ask the Senator from New Hampshire, I hear it often said by supporters of the bill, which became law today, that we on the Republican side are overstating it when we say there are Medicare cuts. Don't I remember that the Director of the CBO testified that fully half of those on Medicare Advantage would see their benefits cut by a bill such as the one that became law today? Don't one out of four recipients of Medicare subscribe to Medicare Advantage? Can we not expect for at least one out of those four Medicare Advantage beneficiaries to have their benefits affected by this law?  

Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I conclude by congratulating the Senator from New Hampshire for a very straightforward amendment. As I understand it, it says: If you are going to take any money out of Medicare, it has to be spent on Medicare.  

Mr. ALEXANDER. It can't be spent on some new government program.  

Mr. ALEXANDER. You have reemphasized that $1/2 trillion is coming out of Medicare and that it will affect the benefits of one-fourth of those who have Medicare Advantage. What you are trying to do is simply say: If there are savings in Medicare, spend it on Medicare because Medicare is going broke. This will help keep it solvent.  

Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President.