3:02 PM EST
Blanche Lambert Lincoln, D-AR

Mrs. LINCOLN. Mr. President, I think it is so important we look at the choice we will be making when we vote on this amendment in a few minutes. It is very simple. When health insurance reform becomes law, health insurance companies will receive millions of new customers purchasing their product for the first time.

My amendment is intended to encourage those insurance companies to put the additional premium dollars they will be bringing in with the volume of new customers back toward lowering their rates and making more affordable coverage for consumers, not putting it in their own pocketbooks.

Where health insurers spent more than 90 cents of every dollar on patient care in the early 1990s, that number has decreased dramatically to just over 80 cents for every dollar in 2007, and even more so in recent years.

According to testimony delivered in the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this year, this trend has translated into a difference of several billion dollars in favor of insurance company shareholders and executives at the expense of health care providers and their patients.

I think it is so important we understand what it is. This amendment does not dictate what insurance companies can pay their executives. They have the complete ability to pay what they choose. It is not a salary cap. But it does limit the American taxpayers' subsidization of outrageous pay and, instead, devotes those resources to protecting Medicare.

A vote for this amendment is a vote in support of strengthening the Medicare trust fund. A vote against this amendment is a vote in support of having the IRS write a check of $650 million to the health insurance companies to subsidize the multimillion-dollar salaries they are paying their executives.

So I urge my colleagues to support this effort on behalf of the American taxpayer and our seniors and to vote in favor of our amendment.