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Democrats’ Rules Package Threatens Medicare Solvency

January 06, 2009

-Today, House Democrats will attempt to block a requirement that would force the House to debate proposals that would protect the solvency of the Medicare program, ensuring that it continues to provide life-saving health care to seniors for years to come.  

-The Democratic Rules Package would irresponsibly ignore the financial crisis facing the Medicare program.  If this rule is enacted, the Congress will not be required to even consider legislation addressing Medicare’s fast-rising costs and their impact on the elderly.
-Medicare is funded by a combination of payroll taxes, beneficiary premiums, and general tax revenues.  Because Medicare’s costs are escalating, the portion of Medicare’s funding that comes from general tax revenues is also rapidly increasing.  With the looming retirement of the baby boom generation, Medicare spending will consume an ever greater portion of general tax revenues.
-In order to protect Medicare solvency, the bipartisan Conferees on the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) included a provision that would force the House to debate proposals to protect Medicare solvency when program spending reaches unaffordable levels.  Unfortunately, that time is now.  
-This provision was first triggered last year, when the portion of Medicare spending derived from general tax revenues exceeded 45 percent of total Medicare spending for the second year in a row.  This trigger concept was borrowed from the Democrat-chaired, bipartisan Medicare Commission in 1999.  Last year, the Democrats were successful in irresponsibly delaying debate on Medicare solvency by passing a similar rules change.  
-The solvency protection provision, enacted into law with the passage of MMA, allows for a proposal to protect Medicare’s solvency to come to the House floor and be debated on an expedited basis.  
-It is clear that timely action is needed.  Last week’s column by George Will pointed out that “today’s recession will bring closer the projected exhaustion of the Medicare Part A trust fund, from early 2019 to perhaps 2016.”
-By suspending this requirement today, and for the second year in a row, House Democrats are acknowledging that they don’t even want to consider ways to protect the solvency or survival of the program.

Protect Medicare and the seniors who depend on it by voting NO on the Democratic House Rules Package.