Every single member of the Kansas delegation to Congress, all of them- save one- voted last week to prevent massive cuts from Medicare from going into effect- and to prevent very real hardship from hitting folks back at home and all over the nation.
The bill to prevent Bush Administration supported cuts passed the House overwhelmingly- 355-59. It was the Senate that become the problem, with responsibility resting directly at the feet of Senator Sam Brownback.
Medical care options may be reduced after lawmakers packed up and left Washington, D.C., this week without stopping a 10.6 percent decrease in Medicare reimbursements made to physicians.
Primary care physicians with the Cotton-O'Neil Clinic will stop accepting new Medicare patients on Tuesday as a result of the cuts that go into effect that day.
"We urge citizens to communicate with your elected officials and ask for their support to repeal cuts to their Medicare benefits," said Kent Palmberg, chief medical officer for Stormont-Vail HealthCare, of which Cotton-O'Neil is a division.
Legislation was needed to block cuts that otherwise occur automatically under a formula. Congress has blocked similar cuts in the past.
But in the Senate, the legislation fell just short of mustering the 60 votes needed to pass the measure under expedited rules. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, fell out of line with other members of the state's delegation, voting against shutting down debate so senators could vote on the measure. Phone calls and an e-mail sent to Brownback's office on Friday weren't returned.If Brownback had joined his fellow Republican from Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, the bill would have had enough votes to get passed the Republican filibuster and could have gone on to an up-or-down vote. But, instead, he voted in lockstep with the Bush Administration and prevented any action. His one vote cost thousands of Kansans, and millions of Americans, their medical coverage.
Don't like it coming from us? Take it from Pat Roberts, then:
"I urge my colleagues to put politics aside to pass this bill for seniors and our health care providers," Roberts said in a statement released by his office. "I hope the Congress and the administration can work together to adopt these reforms as soon as possible."Congresswoman Nancy Boyda was, rightfully, "shocked" when she got the news the Senate had refused to act.
"I think this is where I'm hoping there is nothing short of outrage on this," Boyda said. "Public policy follows public opinion."
In addition to eliminating the planned reduction, Boyda said the legislation would have addressed problems that are driving small pharmacies out of business and leaving some rural counties with no pharmacies. The legislation would have continued to make bonus payments to physicians working in rural areas, kept caps off of physical therapy and increased Medicare payments to doctors by 1.1 percent in January.
Boyda said she worries about seniors losing out on medical care options.
"They don't need one more thing to worry about," she said.
It's nothing shy of sad Sam Brownback let politics get in the way of protecting the health and well-being our our senior citizens. We agree with Boyda- we hope Kansas is outraged.