A letter to the editor in the Sunday edition of the Topeka Capital-Journal from Congresswoman Nancy Boyda:
Sunday, June 29, 2008
If you needed a reminder of how important elections are, it comes this week. Tuesday, Medicare is going to get a lot worse for almost everyone. Last week, Congress had a chance to do something about it. In the House, where every member is up for re-election this November, the fix-it bill passed by a vote of 355 to 59 despite opposition from the president.
Unfortunately, only one-third of the Senate is up for re-election this year. When the Senate voted, the 50 Democrats (Sen. Ted Kennedy is still away fighting cancer) were joined by all of the Republicans facing tough re-election races in the fall. However, almost all the rest, including Sen. Sam Brownback, stuck with the president, and the bill fell one vote short of the 60 needed.
Doctors and other providers will see their payments cut by 10.6 percent. Those in rural areas will see their payments cut even more. The bonus payments that allow rural areas to keep their laboratories and ambulance services will expire. Patients who need rehab therapy will face tight caps on their number of sessions.
The bill we voted on blocked all of these changes. It also made some improvements, including help for pharmacies, rural clinics and low-income seniors, and it did it without increasing the debt.
The president opposes the bill because we pay for the improvements by cutting an insurance company subsidy, called Medicare Advantage, that will cost taxpayers $65 billion over the next five years.
I think Americans think it's good policy. That's why everyone who has to answer to the voters in November supported this bill.
Democracy is a team sport. This is a great example of why you need to be part of the debate.
REP. NANCY BOYDA, Topeka