Sen. Cornyn: Democrats Have Final Opportunity To Include The American People In Historic Health Care Debate

In: All News   Posted 01/06/2010

WASHINGTON—It has become increasingly clear that Democrat leaders in Congress plan to forego the conventional process of forming a bipartisan “conference committee” to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the health care overhaul legislation. Instead, this week both House and Senate Democrats continued closed-door discussions about legislation that will directly touch the lives of all 300 million Americans. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, issued the following statement calling on Democrats not to repeat the same mistake of putting political payoffs and special interest deals above the interests of the American people. “Americans have already seen and rejected the way Democrats bought their way to 60 votes in the Senate, including political payoffs such as the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ the ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ and billions of dollars in ‘Gator Aid.’ Americans lost even more faith in Washington watching the Democrats cut deals with special interest groups, such as the pharmaceutical industry, instead of protecting the interests of patients. “Rather than heeding the public outcry against the way Washington does business, it appears that Democrats are once again determined to shut out the American people when it comes to merging the Senate and House bills. Rather than an open and honest debate about the best way to solve the real problems in our health care system, the Democrats have once again chosen a closed-door process to get them to 60 votes.”Sen. Cornyn also made the following comments regarding sweetheart deals that have already been cut with special interest groups and other Senators: On Small Businesses…“I call on Democrat leaders to remove the last-minute deal with big labor bosses that would penalize small construction businesses with higher taxes. Considering that these same construction businesses tend to steer clear of unionizing, one has to wonder why they are being singled out. “When this debate began, Democrat leaders pledged to protect our nation’s small businesses. No one, least of all our small business owners—the nation’s top economic engine—should be penalized with higher taxes as a result of a sweetheart deal for union bosses.” On Taxpayers…“Several states are slated to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in extra taxpayer money to fund the pet projects and priorities of Senators who were straddling the fence on whether to support the Reid bill. On top of that, special interests like the pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital industries are also poised to cash in from special deals in the Reid bill.”Sweetheart Deals In The Reid Bill: • The Louisiana Purchase: $100 million in extra Medicaid money for the Bayou State. (Original Reid amendment, section 2006, page 432, line 14)• The Cornhusker Kickback: $100 million in extra Medicaid money for Nebraska. (section 10201, page 96, line 9)• U Con: $100 million for a medical center in Connecticut. (Manager’s Amendment To H.R. 3590, Pg. 328)• Gator Aid: $25-$30 billion for a grandfather clause that would protect only senior citizens living in Florida from the deep cuts the bill imposes on Medicare Advantage. (Original Reid amendment, section 3201, page 895, line 9)• Handout Montana: Medicare coverage for anybody exposed to asbestos -- as long as they worked in a mine in Libby, Montana. (section 10323, page 193, line 21)• Iowa Pork and Omaha Prime Cuts: Additional Medicare money for low-volume hospitals of the sort commonly found in Iowa, while Nebraska won a "carve out" provision that would reduce fees for Mutual of Omaha and other Nebraska insurers. (Section 10905, page 371, line 1)• Vermont ($600M), Massachusetts ($500M): Adds targeted state FMAP provisions. Specific FMAP bonuses for VT and MA (starting at page 96, line 9). VT gets a 2.2% FMAP increase for 6 years for their entire program. MA gets a 0.5% FMAP increase for three years for the entire program. (section 10201, page 96, line 9)• Hawaii: Adds a DSH extension. (section 10201, page 101, line 6)• Michigan, Connecticut: Amends section 508 extension so that hospitals in Michigan and Connecticut have option to benefit under section 508 if it means higher payments. This was also done in previous legislation. (section 10317, page 174, line 9)• Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming: Dorgan/Conrad frontier amendment adds 1.0 hosp wage index for those states. MT, SD, ND and WY would qualify (AK and NV also qualify but would not benefit because they are already above 1.0 wage index value). Also establishes a 1.0 practice expense GPCI floor for physicians in those states. (section 10324, page 208, line 16)• Nebraska and Michigan: Carve-out from the insurance fee for Nebraska Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Michigan Blue Cross/Blue Shield. (section 10905, page 369, lines 10-25 though page 370, lines 1-15)