2:27 PM EST
Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX

Mrs. HUTCHISON. I so appreciate the opportunity to talk about these different areas of cuts and then the increase in spending overall, because everyone in America today is concerned about the spending and the debt and the ceiling we are about to reach.

I wanted to bring up one more point on hospitals, because this affects every State in America. In Texas, 29 percent of our hospitals are in rural areas. The cuts in this bill will especially affect hospitals in rural areas. In fact, out of the $135 billion in Medicare cuts to hospitals, $20 billion is cuts in Medicare payments for treating low-income seniors and another $23 billion in Medicaid payments to hospitals for treating low-income patients.

I want to read an excerpt of a letter I received this week from the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, which represents 150 rural hospitals in the State. They write:

We also fear the Medicare cuts as proposed could disproportionately hurt rural hospitals, which are the health care safety net for more than 2 million rural Texans. Because of lower financial margins and higher percentage of Medicare patients, rural hospitals will be impacted more than urban hospitals by any reductions in reimbursement. These proposed Medicare cuts could have a devastating effect on many of the hospitals, which could lead to curtailing of certain services. And, the closure of

some of these Texas hospitals is a real possibility. It has happened every time previously when Congress imposed so-called large-scale, cost-saving measures.

Well, this is the granddaddy of large-scale cost cuts--$500 billion, or $ 1/2 trillion--taken out of the hide of the hospitals that are treating low-income patients and seniors.

I ask the Senator from Nevada if he is experiencing that same thing, and if he feels that hospitals all over our country are going to be hurt by this bill?