Republicans still think H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bill, would hurt Medicare, and Democrats are still saying the bill would help Medicare.
Lawmakers returned to those themes this morning as they began a third day of debate of the PPACA bill on the PPACA bill.
There were no votes scheduled for this morning, but there could be votes on a women’s preventive health benefits amendment and a Medicare amendment that might be offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sometime today.
The Senate also could vote on a motion by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to send the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee for a rewrite, and it’s possible that senators could take up an amendment that would eliminate health insurers’ and medical malpractice insurers’ access to the McCarran-Ferguson Act antitrust exemption.
Sen. Robert Corker, R-Tenn., noted during a round of discussion that started about 9:30 a.m. that Medicare trustees expect the program to start running out of cash in 2017.
“We have a program that is insolvent,” Corker said.
In light of Medicare’s financial problems, implementing a PPACA bill provision that would cut Medicare funding $464 billion over 10 years is a bad idea, Corker said.
Sen. Samuel Brownback, R-Kan., also criticized the proposed Medicare cuts and echoed the observation of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that the PPACA bill would cut hospice reimbursement funding.
McCain accused Democrats of taking funding from one insolvent health program to start another public health program.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., rose to defend the PPACA bill.
Dodd emphasized that AARP, Washington, has approved the bill.
Baucus distinguished between the benefits offered by the Medicare program and Medicare Advantage plan benefits.