|1:41 PM EST||
Judd Gregg, R-NH
Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, we have certainly heard a lot of talk about Medicare over the last few days, and we have actually even voted on a few amendments, but they have all had no force of law, and they have just been statements of purpose. They are called sense of the Senate. Every one of these sense of the Senate has had as its purpose to try to give political cover to Members on the other side relative to the issue of the fact that this bill reduces Medicare spending by close to $ 1/2 trillion
in the first 10 years, $1 trillion when it is fully implemented over a 10-year period, and $2.5 trillion over the first 20 years, and that those reductions in spending in Medicare are going to translate immediately and unquestionably into a reduction in service and coverage for Medicare-recipient senior citizens. The money from that--the
$ 1/2 trillion in the first 10 years, the $1 trillion in the 10 years that we are doing the implementation, and the $2.5 trillion over the next 20 years--is being taken out of the senior citizen program called Medicare, and it is going to be moved over into a brandnew entitlement program and into the expansion of Medicaid.
Those dollars will be used to create new Federal programs for people who have never paid, for the most part, into the Medicare hospitalization fund; for people who are not senior citizens and therefore do not, arguably, deserve to receive the benefit of the Medicare hospitalization fund. As a result, seniors will see their benefits reduced and other people will get a new benefit through the Federal Government. Ironically, the new benefit, this new entitlement, will not be adequately funded either,
but large portions of part of that funding are going to come from the Medicare trust fund.
The problem here is that the Medicare trust fund is insolvent. It has $30 trillion of outstanding exposure to the Medicare trust fund, which we don't know how we are going to pay for as seniors retire over the next 20, 30, 40 years. Thus, there will be a reduction in the benefits to Medicare, a reduction to Medicare recipients, a reduction in the Medicare trust fund to the tune of $ 1/2 trillion in the first 10 years, $1 trillion when it is fully implemented, and $2.5 trillion over the next
That type of reduction shouldn't go to create new Federal programs. If it is going to be done at all, it should go to making the Medicare trust fund more solvent. Well, that has been essentially the tenure of some of the proposals from the other side of the aisle. We have heard a lot of people on the other side of the aisle say: All right, we are not going to cut Medicare. We are not going to cut Medicare. We are just going to reduce it by $ 1/2 trillion, and then we are going to create a new
program with it. We are not going to do this to the seniors. We are not going to take their money and start a new program.
We have heard that statement in different levels of machinations from the other side of the aisle quite regularly.
I do, however, for the record, want to say--because I have immense respect for him, and he has been totally forthcoming on these issues, and very accurate--that the chairman of the Finance Committee has not represented that is what is happening with the Medicare funds.
He has represented on the floor that those Medicare funds that are being reduced--those reductions in Medicare spending will go to create a new program. But a lot of folks on the other side have said they don't agree with [Page: S12531]
that, that is not what they are intending to do. Some of the sense of the Senate have clearly had that implication in their passage.
So what does that amendment do that I am going to be offering? It shoots real bullets. No longer is it a political statement, a sense of the Senate, a thought process, a virtual event saying you want to protect the Medicare trust funds. This amendment is real. It protects the Medicare trust fund. It is real hard language, which says that if you vote for this amendment, you are voting not to move Medicare trust fund dollars out of the Medicare trust fund, away from Medicare recipients, over to
start a new program; that any new program started in this bill must be paid for by something other than Medicare.