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Senate Proceeding on Oct 21st, 2009 :: 3:24:20 to 3:39:55
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Lindsey Graham

3:24:17 to 3:24:37( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: physicians fairness act, the doctors associations who i know would like us to vote for it, i just think one year is enough. one year paid for is enough. to do more than that now is ong, irresponsible, and therefore i will vote against the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the medicare

Lindsey Graham

3:24:20 to 3:39:55( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham

3:24:38 to 3:24:58( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: physicians fairness i thank the chair and yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: thank you. i would like to also indicate that i will vote against this motion to proceed, but before senator lieberman leaves the floor, i just want to just say yet aga, of all the people

Lindsey Graham

3:24:59 to 3:25:19( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: i've met in the senate, you constantly amaze me because there's no doubt that you're doing this because you believe passionately that america is at a crossroads and this is making the problem worse, not better. i'm on a bill with you. there are seven republicans and seven democrats on a comprehensive solution to our

Lindsey Graham

3:25:20 to 3:25:44( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: health care needs. the wyden-bennett bill that mandates coverage but we do it rough the private sector. i just want to let people know that senator lieberman has been very constructive in trying to find a bipartisan compromise which will allow us to deal with health care inflation, which is a problem in the private sector. so you pctice what you preach here trying to solve problems,

Lindsey Graham

3:25:45 to 3:26:07( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: but as you explained to us, the senator from mississippi and i were sitting here talking, there is just not much of this around in politics now where you would come out and take on an issue that's being pushed by leaders of the democratic party that you -- you know, you're an independent democrat, but you articulate the reason, i think, in a way that most americans really appreciate.

Lindsey Graham

3:26:08 to 3:26:29( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: doctors have a problem, but in 1997, we tried to balance the budget with president clinton. the balanced budget agreement act of 1997. and when we looked at how could you sustain a balanced budget, you had to go to where the growth wasn the government. one of the big growth items was entitlements. medicare and micaid are growing exponentially. eventually, thosewo programs

Lindsey Graham

3:26:30 to 3:26:51( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: are going to cost the equivalent of the entire federal budget today in 20 and 30 years. so if you want to balance the budget, you've got to slow down entitlement growth, and medicare is one of those programs that has grown dramatically. when it first came about, it was a $4 billion safety net. they projected that medicare

Lindsey Graham

3:26:52 to 3:27:13( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: would cost $37 billion in 1990, it was like $90 billion, it's it's $400 billion today. so those who designed the medicare program as a safety net for those senior citizens without health care did a good thing, but since from then to now it's become a $400 billion item that's eating up the entire budget. so in 1997, we recalculated the growth rates to be paid to

Lindsey Graham

3:27:14 to 3:27:35( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: doctors and hospitals, and since then, doctors and hospitals have been saying that you've cut reimbursements to the point that we can't take medicare and medicaid patients and it's really hurting our ability to stay in business. about 60% of our income comes from the federal government. i don't doubt that's true because what we did is just nickel and dimed doctors and

Lindsey Graham

3:27:36 to 3:27:56( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: hospitals and never reformed medicare, so senator lieberman is right. to help doctors and hospitals and the country achieve a balanced budget, we're going to have to fundamentally reform medicare, and the doctor fix should be part of that effort. now, what we're doing here is making a promise that we can't afrd to pay.

Lindsey Graham

3:27:57 to 3:28:20( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: we're going to tell the doctors don't worry ever again about medicare reimbursements being cut because for a ten-year period, we're going to hold you harmless. well, that is beyond cynical. we need toook at the doctor fix in terms of comprehensive medicare reform.

Lindsey Graham

3:28:21 to 3:28:41( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: it is a $245 billion item designed to get the medical community to support the leadership version of health care. it is transparent, it is wrong, it is bad politics, it is bad policy, and i hope my colleagues will reject this. the bills coming out of the finance committee -- and i want to congratulate the senators who

Lindsey Graham

3:28:42 to 3:29:03( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: are trying to fix health care because it needs to be fixed. it's about an $800 billion expenditure, a little bit more. it is revenue neutral over a ten-year period because it's going to be paid for. $400 billion medicare cuts are designed -- are part of the

Lindsey Graham

3:29:04 to 3:29:25( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: payoff, the pay-fors. how do you take $800 billion of expense and make it revenue neutral? you offset it. and one of the offsets is a a $400 billion-plus reduction in medicare spending over a ten-year window. i would argue not only is that not going to happen because the congress hasn't reduced medicare

Lindsey Graham

3:29:26 to 3:29:47( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: spending anywhere near that, it's just politically not going to happen. two years ago, we tried to slow the growth of medicare down to to $33.8 billion over a four, five-year period and got 24 votes. if you think this congress is going to have the political will and courage to reduce medicare

Lindsey Graham

3:29:48 to 3:30:08( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: by $400 billion over ten years, show me in the past where we've had any desire to and i would argue that the doctor fix is the best evidence yet of what would come in the future. we're contemplating doing away with the payments that was part of the

Lindsey Graham

3:30:09 to 3:30:29( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: balanced budgetgreement because our medical community has been hit hard and has complained. well, look at the $400 billion. do you think people are going to be on the receiving end of a $400 billion cut over a period of time, they're going to accept it happily? you think they're not going to compin?

Lindsey Graham

3:30:30 to 3:30:50( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: what do you think we're going to do when one group of the medical community or the -- the insurance community says, you're putting me out of business? these $400 billion cuts are never going to happen because, you see, with the doctors' fix that every year we relieve the doctors from the imposition of

Lindsey Graham

3:30:51 to 3:31:11( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: that agreement in 1997. and in many ways we should, because the 1997 agreement wasn't comprehensive. but to those who believe that we're going to cut $400 billion in medicare, have the courage to tell the doctors that we're going to do to them what we said we would do back in 1997. nobody wants to do that.

Lindsey Graham

3:31:12 to 3:31:32( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: and i am sympathetic as to why don't want to do that because we're asking too much of doctors and hospitals and we didn't reform the system as a whole. $245 billion added to the is no small thing. what i hope will happen is that we can find a bipartisan pathway forward on health care reform

Lindsey Graham

3:31:33 to 3:31:54( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: that deals with inflation, that deals with better access to preventive medicine, that has some medical liability reform, that's truly comprehensive give and tack, mandates coverage -- i'm willing to do that as a republican. but if we go down the road that our leadership has set for us here and basically tell the

Lindsey Graham

3:31:55 to 3:32:15( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: doctors, don't worry anymore, you're going to be held harmless for the next ten years, then what group will follow who will want the same deal? and who will we begin to say no to? i don't know. i don't know who we'll have the ability to say no to if we do

Lindsey Graham

3:32:16 to 3:32:37( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: this. and if you say no to them, what the hecko you tell them? you're not a doctor, so it doesn't matter what we do to your business? if we do this, we've lost the ability, in my view, to provide the necessary solutions to the hard probls facing the country. we'll have given in to the most

Lindsey Graham

3:32:38 to 3:32:59( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: cynical nature of politics, we will have destroyed our ability to engage with the public at large in a credible way to fix hard problems. and when it comes time to ask people to sacrifice, they're going to look at us and say, what do you mean sacrifice? aren't you the people that just basically wiped out what the doctors had to do because you

Lindsey Graham

3:33:00 to 3:33:20( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: were afraid of them? i'm not afraid of doctors. god bless them. i'm glad we've got them, and what we've done in the name of reform has been unfair because we've picked on them and not the system as a whole. so to the doctors out there, lindsey graham gets it that your reimbursement rates as they exist today under medicare are very difficult for you to do

Lindsey Graham

3:33:21 to 3:33:41( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: business. but i hope you'll understand that my obligation is beyond just to the doctors in south carolina. it is to what senator lieberman said, to the next generation as well as to the here and now. every politician has a problem: how do you affect the here and now, people that can vote for you, and how can you secure the future?

Lindsey Graham

3:33:42 to 3:34:03( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: well, you just have to ask the people that are here and now to be willing to make some changes for the benefit of the country long term. i'm confident if we ask and we do it in a smart way, people will join with us. i want to give the doctors better reimbursement rates and the only way we can achieve that is to reform medicare from top

Lindsey Graham

3:34:04 to 3:34:24( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: to bottom and make it more efficient. and one of the things i'm willing to do is ask a person like myself to pay more. as a senator, i make about $170,000 a year. i'm not saying we're worth it, but that's what we pay ourselves. and i would like to that i we earn our money because it's not

Lindsey Graham

3:34:25 to 3:34:47( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: an easy job but there are a lot of jobs harder than being a senator, i can assure you. but right now, the system we have to fund medicare, the trust fund, is running out of money in about four years. that basically i'm paying the same amount for part-b premiums that cover doctors and hospital payments out of medicare as my aunt and uncle who worked inhe

Lindsey Graham

3:34:48 to 3:35:08( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: textile millnd made $25,000 a year. i'm willing for people like myself to have to pay more to keep medicare solvent, and we're makingome changes but not nearly enough. three out of four dollars of medicare spending comes from the treasury. for every -- $3 out of $4 comes

Lindsey Graham

3:35:09 to 3:35:29( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: from the general treasury, the taxpayers. one-fourth of the money to cover medicare expenses comes from the patient population being served. there are plenty of americans that are paying about a hundred dollars a month once they get into retirement that could afford to pay $450 a month for the medicare services they

Lindsey Graham

3:35:30 to 3:35:51( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: receive. nobody'ssking them to do it. i'm willing to ask. i'm willing to do it myself. it's those type changes that will lead this country to a brighter future and will correct the imbalance that we have. finally, medicare is $34 trillion underfunded.

Lindsey Graham

3:35:52 to 3:36:12( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: if you had $34 trillion sitting in an account today, it would earn interest over 75 years, you'd need all the money, the $34 trillion-plus, to make the payments on the interest we've promised people in the future. when i was born in 1955, there were 16 workers for every retiree. today there displeerks in 20 years there will be two. there will be two workers paying into the social security and

Lindsey Graham

3:36:13 to 3:36:35( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: medicare trust funds where there used to be 16 when i was born. there are more baby boomers being retired every day than anyone ever anticipated. we're living far beyond 65. and the question for the country is: will people in my business go to you, the public, and say, change is required?

Lindsey Graham

3:36:36 to 3:36:56( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: we can't run the system assuming everybody -- assuming things that don't exist. we have to come to grips with the fact that we have an aging population, we live longer, there are more retirees than ever and there are fewer workers. and once we come to grips with that dynamic and ask of those

Lindsey Graham

3:36:57 to 3:37:19( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: who can afford to give, to give, hold those harmless who can't afford to give, america's best days are ahead. if we don't reform these systems and we continue to do what's being proposed today -- try to buy a constituency off; doctors, we will fix your problem if you

Lindsey Graham

3:37:20 to 3:37:41( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: will support our bill, the $254 billion that it will cost to get you onboard, don't worry about it. to the doctors who may be listening, you better worry about it. you need to worry about not only the viability of your medical practice but the ability of your governme to make payments that it has promised to the next generation, the ability of your government to be able to

Lindsey Graham

3:37:42 to 3:38:07( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: continue to operate, the ability of our country to pass on to the next generation a sound and secure america. we're about to borrow ourself into oblivion. there's a theory out there long held that democracies are doomed to fail because democracies over time will lose the ability to

Lindsey Graham

3:38:09 to 3:38:29( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: say no we in the government will continue to grow government based -- that we in the government will continue to grow the governmen based on the next election cycles and make promises that make sense for our political future but really over time are unsustainable. we have reached that point and we're about to go over the edge.

Lindsey Graham

3:38:30 to 3:38:50( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: the only way america can self-correct is to make sure that our political leadership is rewarded when we ask for change that we can believe in. this is not change that we can believe in. this is the old way of doing business. this is buying off a

Lindsey Graham

3:38:51 to 3:39:13( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: constituency that's important for the here and now debate of health care and not giving a damn about the consequences to the country down the road. this is how we got in this mess. if we pass this bill, not only have we destroyed this new hope from a new president of change we can believe in, we'll have

Lindsey Graham

3:39:14 to 3:39:30( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: reinforced the worst instincts of politics, sold the country short, and made it impossible to say no to the next group that we want to sacrifice. who needs to help us solve this

Lindsey Graham

3:39:42 to 3:39:55( Edit History Discussion )

Lindsey Graham: with that, i yield a sena the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

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